Two Agents From Puerto Rico Treasury Department (“Hacienda”) Arrested For Accepting Bribes And Extortion
SAN JUAN, P.R. – On March 2, 2017, a Federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against two agents from the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, (“Hacienda”) charging them with one count of extortion and one count of accepting bribes in their role as agents for the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The indictment alleges that on June 10, 2015, the defendants Edwin Aponte-Hernández and Eduardo Collazo-Torres, did obstruct, delay, and affect commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in commerce by extortion in that the defendants obtained property not due them or Hacienda under the color of official right. The bribes received were related to the regulation and licensure of adult entertainment machines within several businesses located in San Juan.
The defendants are also charged with accepting bribes in excess of $5,000.00 during the period of January through December 2015, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a series of transactions on behalf of Hacienda. The defendants were arrested March 9, 2017.
“Abusing one’s position as a public servant for personal gain is a breach of trust and a violation of the oath that every government employee takes,” said United States Attorney, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “We will continue working together with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in corrupt activities are brought to justice.”
“The honor of public service brings with it the duty to find and remove those public servants who abuse their power to serve their own selfish ends,” said Douglas Leff, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “From the moment he took office, Secretary Maldonado Gautier reaffirmed Hacienda's commitment to this effort, which led to today’s actions on behalf of the honest citizens of Puerto Rico”.
“We worked closely with the Federal authorities during the course of this investigation. We are not going to stop until we get rid of those who betray the public trust,” stated Lcdo. Raúl Maldonado Gautier, CPA, Director of the Puerto Rico Treasury Department. “Our commitment is to maintain transparency on our administration and to collaborate in every necessary way to preserve the integrity of the Department of the Treasury and to recover the credibility of the people of Puerto Rico.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon. The case was investigated by the FBI, with the collaboration of the PR Treasury Department.
If convicted the defendants face a sentence of 20 years of imprisonment. Criminal indictments are only charges and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.