Two Business Owners Sentenced for Conspiring to Pay Bribes in Exchange for Municipal Contracts in Puerto Rico
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Two government contractors were sentenced this week for their involvement in separate bribery schemes in which they gave payments to the mayor of the municipality of Cataño, Puerto Rico, in exchange for the mayor’s awarding of municipal contracts to their respective companies.
Mario Villegas-Vargas, 44, of Gurabo, Puerto Rico, was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery. According to court documents, Villegas-Vargas paid kickbacks and bribes in exchange for the mayor exerting his influence on municipal officials in Cataño to ensure that Villegas-Vargas’ asphalt and paving business, JR Asphalt, was awarded municipal contracts. Villegas-Vargas’ bribe payments and his efforts to conceal those payments resulted in his business being awarded over $9.9 million in municipal contracts in Cataño.
Other public officials in Puerto Rico have already pleaded guilty to receiving bribe payments from JR Asphalt, including the former mayors of Aguas Buenas, Guayama, and Trujillo Alto and the former Directors of Public Works in Guayama and Cataño.
Jose Bou-Santiago, 50, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery. According to court documents, in April 2019, Bou-Santiago provided a Rolex watch to the mayor of Cataño in exchange for a future municipal contract for Bou-Santiago’s company, Bou Maintenance Service. Specifically, in June 2019, Bou Maintenance Service was awarded a construction contract by the municipality valued at approximately $190,000.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez of the FBI San Juan Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI San Juan Field Office investigated the cases.
Trial Attorneys Nicholas W. Cannon and Ryan R. Crosswell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Chief of the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Section Seth A. Erbe for the District of Puerto Rico prosecuted the cases.
Updated February 22, 2023