Local Defense Attorney And Other Individual Arrested For Money Laundering
SAN JUAN, P.R. – On August 23, 2013, a Federal grand jury returned an indictment against attorney Ramón M. Negrón-Colón, aka “Monchito,” and William Barreto-Ortiz, aka “Willie,” for conspiracy to commit money laundering, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Ramón M. Negrón-Colón is an attorney licensed to practice law in Puerto Rico. Negrón-Colón has represented José D. Figueroa-Agosto, aka “Junior Càpsula,” in judicial proceedings in Commonwealth courts. Defendant William Barreto-Ortiz is a self-employed legal broker operating mainly in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. During the Fall of 1995, Figueroa-Agosto was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of 208 years in the Court of First Instance, San Juan, Puerto Rico. On November of 1999,Figueroa-Agosto utilized false documents to escape from a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico correctional facility. He remained a fugitive for over a decade until he was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges on July 18, 2010.
The indictment alleges that the object of the conspiracy was to nullify Figueroa-Agosto’s 208-year Commonwealth of Puerto Rico imprisonment term through illegal payments made with the proceeds of Figueroa-Agosto’s narcotics trafficking.
The indictment further alleges that beginning on a date unknown, but not later than 2007, until on or about the return of the Indictment, in the Districts of Puerto Rico and New York, and in the Dominican Republic, Negrón-Colón and Barreto-Ortiz knowingly conducted and attempted to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce, which transactions involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, that is, drug trafficking.
In late 2007, defendant Negrón-Colón indicated that the total cost of obtaining the nullification of Figueroa Agosto’s conviction and sentence would be between $2,500,000.00 and $3,000,000.00 in order to funnel illegal payments to public officials of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Negrón-Colón received a few payments from individuals known to the Grand Jury in different occasions in order to further the goals of the conspiracy.
Barreto-Ortiz is also facing one charge of making a false statement, for knowingly and willfully lying to the FBI while it was engaged in an official investigation.
“The actions committed by these two defendants and their efforts to set aside a criminal conviction through illegal payments, undermine the public’s trust in the judicial system, which is a cornerstone to our democracy,” said United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood, Chief of the White Collar and General Crimes Unit.
If found guilty, the defendants could face a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.