Contractor Enters Guilty Plea to Bribing Former Mayor of Cataño
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Mario Villegas-Vargas, 42, pleaded guilty today in Puerto Rico to engaging in a bribery scheme for paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for being awarded municipal contracts that benefited his asphalt and paving company.
Beginning in or around June 2017, Villegas-Vargas and Individual B, co-owners of an asphalt and paving company, conspired to pay bribes and kickbacks to Félix Delgado-Montalvo, the former mayor of Cataño. The purpose of these payments was to help ensure that their company would be awarded and continue to be awarded municipal contracts as opportunities arose in Cataño.
Together, Villegas-Vargas and Individual B paid more than $95,000.00 in kickback payments to Delgado when he was the mayor of Cataño in exchange for asphalt removal and concrete paving contracts in the municipality.
Villegas-Vargas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office.
Trial Attorneys Nicholas W. Cannon and Ryan H. Crosswell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant United States Attorney Seth A. Erbe of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to combat public corruption by municipal officials in Puerto Rico. In addition to the above matters, the Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico have recently obtained convictions against other former public officials and contractors in the District of Puerto Rico for soliciting and accepting bribes related to municipal contracts. See United States v. Félix Delgado-Montalvo, 21-463 (RAM); United States v. Oscar Santamaria-Torres, 21-464 (RAM); United States v. United States v. Raymond Rodríguez, 21-465 (RAM); United States v. Luis Arroyo-Chiques, 21-485 (SCC); United States v. Eduardo Cintron-Saurez, 22-151 (SCC); United States v. Ramon Conde-Melendez, 22-221 (PAD); Pedro Marrero-Miranda, 22-251 (RAM); and Jose Luis Cruz-Cruz, 22-276 (SCC).
Additionally, the department recently obtained indictments charging several former officials and contractors with bribery related to municipal contracts, and those cases are still pending. See United States v. Ángel Pérez-Otero, 21-474 (ADC); United States v. Radamés Benítez-Cardona, 21-475 (PAD); United States v. Javier García-Pérez, 22-185 (ADC); and United States v. Reinaldo Vargas-Rodríguez, 22-186 (PAD).