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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Suspended Ponce mayor to give up salary but keep post, return to medical practice

Suspended Ponce mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón

By The Star Staff

On his way out of a hearing on the status of the proceedings in his his public corruption case at the Ponce Judicial Center on Thursday, suspended mayor Luis Manuel Irizarry Pabón said he will give up his salary to return to his medical practice, but will not give up the position he occupies as mayor.

“Definitely, I know that many people are aware and we have been specialists in internal medicine for more than 30 years and we are going to be practicing and we are giving up the [mayor’s] salary to be able to dedicate ourselves to the practice of medicine,” Irizarry Pabón said in response to questions from the press.

But is he resigning from his position as mayor? the press asked.

“No, we are only giving up the salary so that we can have the opportunity to generate the income for the different expenses that we have, both family and lawyers,” Irizarry Pabón replied.

Why not resign from the position of mayor? the press asked.

“This is a decision where we respect the will of the people,” he said. “Here there was a democracy that elected me by the vast majority, by 62 percent of the votes, and where I have to respect the city of Ponce. We have always said that this has been a case that has not been fair, that we are right and at the time we respect the processes and it will be determined that justice will definitely be done. And respecting that democratic right of the majority of Ponce’s over 62 percent, we will maintain our position.”

The suspended mayor faces criminal charges for violations of articles 4.2 (b) of the Government Ethics Act, for obtaining a personal benefit using his public office, and 251 of the Penal Code, for unjustified enrichment, by soliciting and obtaining money from his employees to repay a personal loan of $53,000.

The judicial process against Irizarry Pabón is continuing in the process of delivering evidence, prosecutor Fabiola Acarón said.

“On August 30, the Public Prosecutor’s Office will be delivering and/or receiving evidence with the defense to begin the trial,” she said. “[Regarding the jury,] that is a prerogative of the defense. It is a determination that the defense has to make, prior to the start of the trial. […] On August 30, a hearing on the status of the proceedings, the second one, will be [held] to confirm and verify that all the documentation by both parties has been delivered and that we are ready to start the trial.”

“But, on our part in particular, once we settle that issue of the delivery of evidence, we will be ready to begin the trial,” the prosecutor continued. “On Tuesday [June 18], what happens is the surrender of evidence under Rule 95 of Criminal Procedure, which requires us as a state to deliver all the evidence that we intend to use at the trial stage. So that’s what we intend to do on June 18 at two o’clock in the afternoon. … In the event that the defense has some kind of evidence to use, it must also turn it over. The date, time and place where that delivery is going to be made has already been coordinated.”

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