Former Executive Assistant to Former Mayor of Trujillo Alto Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Accepting Bribes
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, Radamés Benítez-Cardona, former assistant to the former mayor of Trujillo Alto, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Pedro A. Delgado-Hernández to serve 30 months in prison, announced United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. Benítez-Cardona pleaded guilty on November 30, 2022, and admitted to receiving monthly bribe payments from a municipal waste management contractor, including separate $17,250 cash payments on May 22, 2021, June 12, 2021, and July 25, 2021.
“The citizens of Trujillo Alto entrusted the defendant with serving their communities with honesty and integrity -- instead he participated in an illegal scheme and used his position for personal gain,” said United States Attorney Muldrow. “Public officials who fail to faithfully discharge the duties of their office, and those who conspire with them, will be investigated, prosecuted, and punished for their actions.”
According to court documents, Radamés Benítez-Cardona, enriched himself by accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for securing municipal contracts for a waste management contractor as opportunities arose. The scheme required Individual A to pay a $0.75 per house monthly kickback to defendant Benítez-Cardona in connection with Trujillo Alto municipal contract 2018-000004 awarded to Company A for trash pick-up. The monthly kickback amounted to approximately $17,250 for 23,000 houses. In addition, Benítez-Cardona agreed to give a portion of the kickback money to José Luis Cruz-Cruz, the mayor of Trujillo Alto. Cruz-Cruz was sentenced on January 11, 2023, to 24 months in prison for his participation in the bribery scheme.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott H. Anderson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Trial Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.
These cases are 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); and United States v. Raymond Rodríguez, 21-465 (RAM) ; United States v. Mario Villegas, 21-468 (FAB); United States v. Luis Arroyo-Chiques, 21-485 (SCC); United States v. Eduardo Cintron-Suarez, 22-151 (SCC); United States v. Ramon Conde-Melendez, 22-221 (PAD); United States v. Pedro Miranda-Marrero, 22-251 (RAM); United States v. Jose Cruz-Cruz, 22-276 (SCC); and United States v. Javier García-Pérez, 22-185 (ADC); United States v. Jose Bou-Santiago, 22-379 (ADC).
Additionally, the department recently obtained indictments charging several former officials with bribery related to municipal contracts, and those cases are still pending. See United States v. Ángel Pérez-Otero, 21-474 (ADC); and United States v. Reinaldo Vargas-Rodríguez, 22-186 (PAD). An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.