Former Senate Employee Sentenced For His Participation In A Scheme To Defraud The Government
SAN JUAN, P.R. – United States District Court Judge Francisco A. Besosa sentenced Ángel Figueroa-Cruz to 10 months in prison followed by a supervised release term of three years and 150 hours of community service for his participation in a scheme to defraud the government, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Figueroa-Cruz pleaded guilty on October 15, 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
On May 28, 2019, a federal grand jury returned an 18-count indictment charging former Senate employee Ángel Figueroa-Cruz, along with two former contractors Chrystal Robles-Báez and Isoel Sánchez-Santiago with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 10 substantive counts of wire fraud, intentional misapplication of property by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
Chrystal Robles-Báez and Isoel Sánchez-Santiago pleaded guilty in August 2019 and were sentenced on February 6, 2020, to four and ten months of imprisonment, respectively.
According to the allegations in the indictment, from in or about 2016 to June 2018, defendants Chrystal Robles-Báez, Isoel Sánchez-Santiago, and Ángel Figueroa-Cruz engaged in a scheme to defraud money and property from the government of Puerto Rico by means of materially false and fraudulent representations and promises. The defendants sought to accomplish their scheme to defraud by billing, approving, and collecting for contractual professional services work that was either not completed, or was performed in contravention to the explicit terms of the contracts.
As alleged in the indictment, the defendants participated in lawful electoral campaign activities for candidates to elected offices during the 2016 Puerto Rico general elections. After the general elections in late 2016, the defendants began to explore employment opportunities with the Government of Puerto Rico, including contracts for professional services. On January 1, 2017, defendant Chrystal Robles-Báez incorporated Global Instant Consulting Group, Inc. (“GICG”). The purpose of the corporation was to provide administrative and political counseling, workshops and public relations, and consulting. On the same day, defendant Isoel Sánchez-Santiago incorporated International Legislative and Governmental Consulting Group, Inc. (ILGCG). The purpose of the corporation was to provide governmental administrative consulting, creation of proposals, offering of workshops, and legislative process and parliamentary procedures.
In the process of establishing the corporations, defendant Robles-Báez solicited through interstate wire communications necessary documentation from various departments, agencies, and dependencies of the Government of Puerto Rico, including, but not limited to: (a) the Department of State; (b) the Treasury Department; and (c) the Police of Puerto Rico. Eventually, the defendants entered into professional services contracts with the Government of Puerto Rico. Specifically, the Puerto Rico Senate and the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.
According to the indictment, defendant Robles-Báez, on numerous occasions, certified and requested payments indicating that she had attended the Office of Governmental Affairs to provide professional services as detailed in the two GICG contracts, when in fact on those days the defendant did not attend the Office of Governmental Affairs or provide professional services. Additionally, defendants Robles-Báez and Sánchez-Santiago utilized the personal identifying information of numerous individuals, without their knowledge or consent, in order to give the impression that defendant Robles-Báez, as an “Intergovernmental Coordinator” on behalf of GICG, had provided those individuals with professional services, when in fact no such services were ever requested by those individuals.
Furthermore, defendant Robles-Báez utilized the assistance, contacts, and services of defendant Sánchez-Santiago in order to fraudulently justify work allegedly completed under the GICG contracts. Defendant Ángel Figueroa-Cruz, who was the Executive Director of the Office of Governmental Affairs in the Puerto Rico Senate, falsely certified as correct, the information contained in the bills/invoices for payment submitted by defendant Robles-Báez as an “Intergovernmental Coordinator” on behalf of GICG in support of payment. Defendants Robles-Báez and Sánchez- Santiago divided the proceeds of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney and Criminal Division Chief Timothy Henwood. The case was investigated by the FBI and was referred by the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
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