• The Star Staff

Two executives arrested for racketeering in Florida & Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

Federal authorities have arrested two investment executives and accused them of making false representations to lure individuals in Florida and Puerto Rico into investing $12 million to provide loans for businesses.

Gary Steven Wykle and Alejandro Cortés López were arrested Monday and charged in a 14-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and wire fraud, said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, on Wednesday. The FBI was in charge of the investigation.

Wyckle and Cortés López were, respectively, the president and executive vice president of The Republic Group Inc., a now defunct firm that had been based in Miami and, authorities say, advertised itself as a financial services company. From in or about 2010, through 2017, Wyckle and Cortés López, along with other individuals known and unknown to a federal grand jury, raised over $12 million in so-called promissory notes on behalf of The Republic Group Inc.

“Wyckle and Cortés López solicited investors in person, via telephone, and via the internet, and caused materially false and misleading representations to be made to investors,” an FBI statement reads. “They falsely stated to investors that their investment would facilitate high-interest rate, short-term loans for various companies, including hotels, resorts, and other hospitality industries in the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.”

The defendants failed to disclose to investors that investments would be used for Wyckle’s personal expenses, goods and services at retail stores, restaurants, travel, rent, entertainment, and to make lulling payments to existing investors. Defendant Cortés López was paid a commission, which he failed to disclose, from each investor that he brought to The Republic Group Inc.

“The defendants’ alleged conduct undermines the confidence investors place in the financial markets,” Muldrow said. “Financial markets are governed by rules that are supposed to protect investors. These defendants, skilled at convincing individuals to place their trust in them, engaged in a ‘Ponzi’ scheme to defraud investors, and ultimately cost them millions of dollars. We will investigate and prosecute these types of crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

“When people lose trust in the systems, society crumbles,” said Rafael Riviere Vázquez, special agent in charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “This is why the FBI is committed to staying ahead of this threat, by following the evidence wherever it may lead and pursuing these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

Investors who believe they are victims of Wykle and Cortés López, and who signed contracts with them or The Republic Group Inc., are encouraged to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (787) 766-5656 to obtain information about the proceedings and their rights to restitution.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Veronda. Both defendants are facing a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, and a fine not to exceed $1 million.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

© The San Juan Daily Star