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Press Release

Ex-Director of Technical Education Program, Contractor, and Company Plead Guilty to Theft of over $200,000 from the Puerto Rico Department of Education

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Kelvin Pagán-La Luz, Javier Santiago-Rodríguez, and Star Enterprises Inc. (“Star Enterprises”) pleaded guilty today to Federal Program Theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(A).

According to the plea agreements, from June 2019 and continuing through August 2021, the defendants aiding and abetting each other, stole, embezzled, and obtained by fraud $213,201.07 owned by, and under the care, custody, and control of the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDOE).

Defendant Kevin Pagán-La Luz was employed by the PRDOE as the director of the Technical Education Program, a component of the PRDOE that was responsible for the administration of public post-secondary institutions operated under the auspices of the PRDOE. Pagán-La Luz lived with defendant Javier Santiago-Rodríguez, the owner and president of defendant Star Enterprises, a corporation with a registered physical address identical to the residential address that Pagán-La Luz and Santiago-Rodríguez shared.

In November 2017, Star Enterprises failed to renew its certificate of eligibility to contract with the Puerto Rico Department of Education or other local governmental entities. In December 2019, the Puerto Rico Department of State cancelled Star Enterprises certificate of incorporation because of its failure to comply with the Puerto Rico General Corporations Law.

As of December 2019, Star Enterprises could neither lawfully enter into any contracts with the government of Puerto Rico, nor lawfully conduct business in Puerto Rico. Despite not having either a valid certificate of eligibility or a valid certificate of incorporation, Kelvin Pagán-La Luz authorized payments to Star Enterprises totaling $213,210.07 for work that Star Enterprises purportedly performed for the PRDOE. In September 2020, Pagán-La Luz used an intermediary business that was an authorized contractor to funnel $59,999 to Star Enterprises and Santiago-Rodríguez for services that were never rendered.

“Today’s convictions should send a clear message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal and state partners will aggressively work to bring to justice those who defraud the government, especially institutions devoted to serve our children,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Public corruption undermines confidence in our government institutions and the rule of law.  We will continue to hold accountable those who breach the public’s trust for their personal gain.”

“These individuals abused their positions of trust for personal gain, and with today’s action, will now be held accountable for cheating those they promised to serve – Puerto Rico students,” said Robert Wolfe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, Southeastern Region. “The OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who misappropriate education funds for their own selfish purposes. Puerto Rico’s students and taxpayers deserve nothing less.” 

“In this case, the public official was called primarily to act to benefit children and instead acted to benefit himself and his partner. I can't stress this enough: no scheme is invisible, and the People of Puerto Rico are tired of putting up with this behavior from those who are supposed to serve them,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. “Our Public Corruption team is trained to detect and disrupt plots to defraud the government and its constituents. We will not stop and will continue to urge the public to report these schemes. Together, we can continue our work to make Puerto Rico a place where our children get the educational services they need and deserve.”

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on May 22 at 10 a.m. and face a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, Southeastern Region, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander L. Alum is prosecuting the case.


Updated February 14, 2024

Financial Fraud
Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 2024-009