Two businessmen plead guilty in Cataño bribery case
By John McPhaul
The federal prosecutor’s office on Wednesday confirmed guilty plea agreements with Oscar Santamaría Torres of the company Waste Collection and Raymond Rodríguez Santos of JR Asphalt related to the corruption scheme in which the former mayor of Cataño, Félix “el Cano” Delgado Montalvo, pleaded guilty.
According to the documents unsealed by the federal prosecutor’s office, Santamaría Torres and Rodríguez Santos each made an admission of guilt for bribery and illegal use of federal funds to obtain contracts with the municipality of Cataño.
The documents maintain that Santamaría Torres gave $2,000 in cash to the former mayor to receive contracts in that municipality.
Meanwhile, an accusatory statement stipulates that businessman Mario Villegas Vargas gave Delgado Montalvo several luxury watches in exchange for contracts with JR Asphalt.
The cases are being processed by trial attorney Ryan Crosswell of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Anderson and Nicholas Cannon of the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Investigations are being conducted by the FBI’s San Juan field office.
Meanwhile, the Waste Collection Corp. issued a statement saying that the company has taken all legal measures and ethical steps regarding the allegations made as part of the federal investigation into contracts awarded for the management of solid waste in various municipalities, and gave assurances of total transparency in its operations, even though Santamaría is the founder of the company.
“We are a company with many years in the solid waste and debris management industry; we serve both the private sector and the government and we know how to do it,” said Luis Mayoral, the chairman of Waste Collection, in a press release. “We have a group of committed employees who go out every day to provide one of the most important services for the conservation of the environment in Puerto Rico. It is our responsibility to fully acknowledge what happened with our past president, and to be strict in complying with ethical standards in the development of the company’s commercial and operational activities in an environment of transparency and fair competition.”
Santamaría, meanwhile, said Wednesday that he was sorry for his actions which led him to plead guilty to conspiracy in the federal case.
“I appear before the people of Puerto Rico, to ask for forgiveness and express my genuine repentance to my wife, my natural and adoptive parents, my daughters and sons, family, friends, and all those who have been affected by my actions,” Santamaría said. “It is my wish to make a public recognition of my actions, whose consequences have caused pain and suffering. I have failed and did not have sufficient character to understand the ethical and moral consequences of my actions, whose effects have brought me to justice and public shame.”