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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Vázquez Garced defense wants fast track to corruption trial; not so her co-defendants

Former governor Wanda Vázquez Garced

By The Star Staff

Former governor Wanda Vázquez Garced’s legal representative, Luis Plaza Mariota, insisted Tuesday that the criminal trial against his client should begin as soon as possible, but the legal teams of the two other defendants in the corruption case against Vázquez Garced, banker Julio Herrera Velutini and former FBI agent Mark Rossini, said they needed more time.

The lawyer proclaimed that they already know the case and the prosecutors theory, and that they already have made their “own case,” for which they asked federal judge Raúl Arias Marxuach to order the start of the trial once a series of legal controversies have been resolved.

The next status hearing is scheduled for June 6. Vázquez Garced and her two co-defendants are accused of participating in an alleged scheme aimed at Vázquez Garced removing George Joyner from his position as head of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions and appointing Víctor Rodríguez Bonilla, a former employee of Bancrédito, a company run by Herrera Velutini.

In exchange, according to the prosecution, Vázquez Garced was to receive political campaign contributions.

“Our interest is to move the case of Wanda Vázquez along quickly because there is a lot of evidence in the emails that [prosecutor Ryan R.] Crosswell sent us today. They have nothing to do with us,” Plaza Mariota said.

In the case of the defense of Herrera Velutini, the scenario is very different. His lawyer, Lilly Ann Sánchez, indicated, as did the other lawyers in the case, that her office is preparing a long list of keywords to be included in a filter that will be applied to government evidence to protect information. Herrera Velutini’s defense has presented prosecutors with 15 pages of evidence they have not received.

Plaza Mariota also announced that he would deliver his own list of evidence documents to the prosecution.

“Specific issues,” he said.

“Herrera Velutini is in a very different position from Wanda Vázquez,” said Sánchez, raising the possibility that the cases will be heard separately. “Our discovery is voluminous and a speedy trial, like the one requested by Vázquez’s lawyers, I don’t think it’s possible for our client.”

Michael Brian Adler, one of Rossini’s lawyers, also noted that they are finalizing their list of keywords to be protected.

“I would agree that much of the information does apply to Rossini and any matter relevant to Rossini we want to have access to,” Adler said. “It will be a substantial discovery process, and we do not anticipate a speedy trial.”

The lawyer referred, when speaking of a “large part of the information,” to a matter raised by Plaza Mariota, who maintained that he has received thousands of documents from the prosecution that have nothing to do with the case and that he associates with matters of national security.

Plaza Mariota was emphatic on the need for Arias Marxuach to resolve the handling of sensitive information.

“We are not questioning what the government is doing, we are sure that it is important, but we do not want to be custodians of sensitive information,” said the lawyer, adding that they wanted to make the public see that a list of 24 audio files and documents stored in 61 gigabytes of memory has to do with Vázquez Garced, when it does not.

“I am clear and I will solve it in a few weeks,” Arias Marxuach replied. “I have to identify time that I don’t have.”

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