top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Vázquez Garced denies ‘supplemental facts’ raised by Venezuelan banker in motion for dismissal

Former Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced

By The Star Staff

Lawyers for former governor Wanda Vázquez Garced on Wednesday denied “supplemental facts” raised by Venezuelan financier Julio Herrera Velutini in his motion to dismiss.

Herrera Velutini, the owner of Bancrédito International Bank & Trust, and Mark Rossini, a financial consultant, sought to join Vázquez’s request to dismiss criminal charges against them for alleged corrupt acts.

The former governor’s lawyers said Herrera Velutini correctly alerted the court to two decisions from the Supreme Court and the First Circuit published after Vázquez filed her motion that continue a clear trend over the past 15 years in appellate courts, and especially the Supreme Court, rejecting the government’s aggressive theories of honest-services fraud.

However, Vázquez, the lawyers said, rejects and denies the “supplemental facts” included by Herrera Velutini in his motion.

According to Herrera Velutini’s motion, the “indictment alleges that a core development in the purported bribery scheme occurred … at a wedding attended by both Ms. Vázquez and Mr. Herrera.”

“Herrera mistakenly states that “according to the indictment, during the wedding, Ms. Vázquez was offered general support for a potential election campaign, but that she had to resolve ongoing issues with OCIF [Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions] to obtain that support,” the lawyers said.

“This is a total mischaracterization of the allegations included in the Indictment,” the ex-governor’s lawyers said. “The indictment does not allege that Ms. Vázquez was offered general support for a potential election campaign at the wedding. Notably, Mr. Herrera failed to provide any citation to the Indictment that supports his offhand conclusion that Vázquez ‘0was offered general support’ during the wedding. If he wishes to concede that point, so be it. But his concession is solely his, not Vázquez-Garced’s.”

In contrast, Vázquez’s memorandum was very carefully drafted, and every factual allegation had a corresponding citation to the indictment, the lawyers noted. Vázquez noted in her memorandum that the indictment does allege that at some point during the wedding, a John Blakeman sent a text message to Herrera Velutini stating that Vázquez would win the election if she had “the support from you all,” to which Herrera responded that she “has it. In this table she already has 2MM,” but, “she ha[d] to resolve” ongoing issues with respect to the longstanding mismanagement and abuses of OCIF.

“However, and crucially, the Indictment does not detail any conversations between Herrera and Vázquez during the wedding, much less that Herrera offered her ‘general support’ for her election campaign or that they agreed on an explicit quid pro quo relating to campaign funding,” the lawyers said. “In fact, the Indictment does not allege that anyone at the wedding, including the other ‘billionaire[s]’ in attendance, agreed to contribute any money to her primary campaign or participate in any unlawful quid pro quo arrangement. The Indictment does allege that John Blakeman and Herrera exchanged text messages during the wedding stating that they should support Vázquez if she resolved the ongoing issues with OCIF. But those conversations, as alleged by the Government, were between Blakeman and Herrera – no one else. The Government is not alleging – because it cannot – that Vázquez-Garced had any knowledge of the back-and-forth texting between Blakeman and Herrera.”

“Any potential criminal liability resulting from those text messages is attributable solely to Blakeman and Herrera,” the lawyers added. “Vázquez can only be criminally liable for her own actions, not the back-and-forth scheming between Blakeman and Herrera.”

Herrera Velutini also argues that the Indictment “ignores” that there were legitimate reasons for terminating former OCIF head George Joyner.

“Those ‘legitimate reasons’ are, however, not alleged in the indictment. And, while they may certainly be raised at trial, it is improper to raise them in a motion to dismiss an indictment,” Vázquez’s lawyers said.

According to the indictment, from December 2019 through June 2020, Vázquez allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme with various individuals, including Herrera Velutini, Frances Díaz, Rossini, and John Blakeman to finance Vázquez’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign.

According to the indictment, beginning in 2019, Herrera Velutini’s bank was the subject of an examination by OCIF, a regulatory agency that oversees financial institutions operating in Puerto Rico. Through intermediaries, Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly promised to provide funding to support Vázquez’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign in exchange for Vázquez terminating the OCIF commissioner and appointing a new commissioner of Herrera Velutini ’s choosing. The indictment alleges that Vázquez accepted the offer of a bribe and, in February 2020, took official action to demand the resignation of the OCIF commissioner and, in May 2020, to appoint a former consultant for the international bank owned by Herrera Velutini – who had been personally selected by Herrera Velutini. In return, Herrera and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to political consultants in support of Vázquez’s campaign.

Vázquez, Herrera Velutini and Rossini are each charged with conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and honest services wire fraud.

87 views0 comments
bottom of page