Two Agents From Puerto Rico Treasury Department (“Hacienda”) Sentenced For Accepting Bribes And Extortion
SAN JUAN, P.R. – US District Court Chief Judge Aida Delgado-Colón sentenced two former Treasury Department employees for extortion, announced United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The investigation was led by the FBI.
On March 2, 2017, a Federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Edwin Aponte-Hernández and Eduardo Collazo-Torres, 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. Aponte-Hernández pled guilty to one count of extortion on August 31, 2017and was sentenced to six months in prison, six months of home incarceration, one year of supervised release, and 150 hours of community service. Collazo-Torres pled guilty to one count of extortion on October 12, 2017, and was sentenced to one year of home incarceration, three years of probation, and 150 hours of community service.
The government’s evidence showed that on or about June 10, 2015, Aponte-Hernández and Collazo-Torres, confiscated three (3) Adult Entertainment Machines that had expired licenses from a store in Rio Piedres, Puerto Rico. The owner of the machines contacted Aponte-Hernández who demanded $3,000.00 for the return of the machines and a waiver of the fine. The owner of the machines negotiated with Aponte-Hernández and Collazo-Torres and the parties eventually agreed that the owner of the machines would pay $1,500.00 in cash to the agents in exchange for the return of the machines.
Later that same day, the owner of the machines met with Aponte-Hernández and Collazo-Torres and in exchange for $1,500.00 was given the entertainment machines. The defendant and other agents then split the $1,500.00 between them. This cash payment was never reported to Hacienda and the defendants did not have authority to negotiate this illicit transaction.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon. The case was investigated by the FBI, with the collaboration of the PR Treasury Department.