SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO –The mayor of Guaynabo was arrested today on charges of conspiracy, soliciting a bribe, and extortion. In a separate operation, the executive assistant to the mayor of Trujillo Alto was arrested today on charges of conspiracy, soliciting a bribe, and extortion.
“The constituents of these defendants entrusted them with serving their communities with honesty and integrity -- instead they participated in the alleged illegal schemes and used their positions for personal gain,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “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.”
The indictment against Ángel Pérez-Otero, Mayor of Guaynabo, alleges that he was involved in a bribery conspiracy in which, from late 2019 through May 2021, he received and accepted $5,000 cash payments on a regular basis from Individual A. In exchange for these payments, the mayor agreed to obtain and retain contracts for Company A (a construction company) and ensured that Company A’s invoices were promptly paid. The indictment alleges that Individual A regularly met in secret with Pérez-Otero to pay cash bribes and kickbacks to Pérez-Otero.
“As I have said before, we will not allow this kind of behavior to go unpunished. Public Corruption is one of the FBI’s top priorities and today’s arrests highlight the FBI’s commitment to hold accountable those who violate the people’s trust,” said Joseph González, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Puerto Rico. “I can’t stress enough how crucial cooperation from the public is to the developments of these cases and therefore, anyone with information on public corruption schemes is highly encouraged to report it. As always, I’d like to thank our local state and federal partners for their contributions to this case and their continued support to the FBI mission.”
A second indictment returned yesterday alleges that beginning in or around June of 2017, Radamés Benítez-Cardona, a government official and agent of Trujillo Alto, enriched himself by accepting bribes and kickbacks from Individual A and Individual B in exchange for securing municipal contracts for Company A as opportunities arose. The indictment alleges that Individual B negotiated a bribe and kickback scheme with defendant Benítez-Cardona on behalf of Individual A. 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. Individual B also gave Benítez-Cardona an up-front payment of approximately $200,000 on behalf of Individual A to ensure that Company A received the waste disposal contract with the Municipality of Trujillo Alto.
These investigations were conducted by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ryan R. Crosswell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott H. Anderson and Nicholas W. Cannon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.