Special Agent for Hacienda Sentenced to 18 Months Incarceration for Bribing an Hacienda Tax Auditor
SAN JUAN, P.R. – Ricardo Fernández-Ramos was sentenced to 18 months incarceration, followed by three years supervised release, and 200 hours of unpaid community service by United States District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo for bribing one of his colleagues at the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury (“Hacienda”), announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. At the time of his arrest on public corruption charges, back in July of 2011, Fernández-Ramos held the position of Special Agent for the Department of Hacienda assigned to the Tax Crimes Division in the Mayagüez District where he was responsible for investigating tax evasion crimes committed against the Government of Puerto Rico.
The Indictment in this case charged that from approximately September 2010 through December 2010, Fernández-Ramos corruptly gave, offered, and agreed to give a thing of value, namely $12,500 in cash, to an Hacienda tax auditor for the purpose of influencing and rewarding her in relation to an audit that she was conducting on the 2008 and 2009 individual tax returns of an Isabela business owner.
As part of his plea agreement with the United States government, Fernández-Ramos was permitted to argue for a sentence as low as probation, while the United States reserved the right to argue for a sentence as high as 18 months incarceration. During the sentencing hearing, the government argued that this was a classic case of public corruption and that a sentence of probation would send the wrong message to the community at large—a message that indeed Puerto Rico was the “Isla de Chanchullo,” or “Island of Deceit.” In the end, the Court stated for the record that the reasons presented by the defense in favor of a sentence of probation fell well short of their mark. Instead, the Court ruled that, given the facts of this case, incarceration was the more appropriate sentence. The Court granted Fernández-Ramos until April 1, 2013, to voluntarily surrender himself to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshal D. Morgan.
“This case should serve as a stark reminder to everyone that if you engage in public corruption and steal from the Government of Puerto Rico, you should plan on spending the next few years of your life in a Federal prison,” stated U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. The Puerto Rico community can rest assured that the investigation and prosecution of public corruption crimes is one of the highest priorities of the United States Department of Justice.”
“Combating public corruption is a priority for the FBI in San Juan,” said Carlos Cases, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office. “We will continue to aggressively investigate and bring to justice any public official who abuses the public's trust and use their position for personal gain”.