Special prosecutor recommended to investigate Rep. Nogales Molinelli
By The Star Staff
The Justice Department on Monday asked for a special independent prosecutor to investigate Citizen Victory Movement Rep. Mariana A. Nogales Molinelli for withholding information that should have been included in her ethics reports related to the management of short-term rental properties.
House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez said that while Nogales Molinelli enjoys a presumption of innocence, he is removing her from the Ethics Committee. He also appointed Rep. José Bernardo Márquez as chairman of the committee.
“Now it is up to the Special Independent Prosecutor’s Office to guarantee due process and equal protection of the law to representative Nogales Molinelli,” Hernández Montañez said.
A report from the Justice’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs (DIPAC) concluded that there was probable cause to believe that Nogales Molinelli committed the crime of perjury by omitting from her report that she held positions in various corporations, according to a Justice Department statement.
In addition, she failed to include the income earned from a property rental that she owns, and failed to pay room taxes on the property. The property in question is located in Palmas del Mar in Humacao and was intended for short-term lease.
The department’s investigation was the result of a complaint filed by the executive director of the Office of Government Ethics, Luis A. Pérez Vargas, and New Progressive Party senators Thomas Rivera Schatz and Gregorio B. Matías Rosario. Rivera Schatz had also indicated that the lawmaker had a debt of $200,000 with the Municipal Revenue Collections Center.
“At the Department of Justice we continue to rigorously, fairly and without distinction of person investigate the actions of public officials referred to our attention,” Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández said. “In accordance with the role we perform, we reiterate our commitment to the Puerto Rican people to take the corresponding actions and measures to ensure and guarantee faithful compliance with the laws.”