• The San Juan Daily Star

Top court suspends lawyer who played key role in public corruption schemes

Oscar Santamaría Torres

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a resolution “immediately and indefinitely” suspending Oscar Santamaría Torres from the legal profession following a request made by the disgraced lawyer.

Santamaría Torres and the former mayor of Cataño, Félix “el Cano” Delgado Montalvo, were arrested earlier this month over illegalities in the granting of multimillion-dollar contracts for the management of solid waste that are being investigated by the federal prosecutor’s office. They both have pleaded guilty.

Santamaría Torres was presumably also responsible for the arrests of former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero and of an aide to the Trujillo Alto mayor on charges of corruption.

The Supreme Court said it was suspending Santamaría Torres for “distancing himself from the principles of honesty and morality that should characterize the profession.”

Santamaría Torres was admitted to the profession in 2007 and the following year he obtained a license to practice as a notary public.

On Dec. 9, the Directorate of Public Notary Inspections informed the Supreme Court that on Oct. 26, Santamaría Torres voluntarily asked to be removed as a notary public and turned in his notarized documents. His notary public bond was later canceled.

On Dec. 10, Santamaría Torres informed the commonwealth court that he had signed an agreement with the federal prosecutor’s office in which he pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, federal funds bribery and kickbacks under Section 18 USC 371.

“So far, I have not been convicted by the federal court but I must inform the honorable court that I have been made incapable of ethically doing my duties and obligations of the legal profession,” the Supreme Court document states.

The guilty plea agreement was signed on Nov. 30.

Santamaría Torres offered services under the category of solid waste through his company Waste Collection Corp., which obtained its first contract with the municipal government of Cataño on May 1, 2017.

In Cataño only, Waste Collection accumulated $13.2 million in contracts. The first agreement went into effect on May 1, 2017, for $2 million, but was extended until 2029 through six amendments that raised its amounts to $10 million under the category of waste collection and recycling.

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