Two Former Directors of Public Works Sentenced for Accepting Bribes
WASHINGTON – The former Director of Public Works of the Municipality of Guayama, Puerto Rico, and the former Director of Public Works of Cataño, also in Puerto Rico, were sentenced this week to two years and two years and 6 months in prison, respectively, for their involvement in separate bribery schemes in which they received cash payments in exchange for approving invoice payments for an asphalt and paving company.
According to court documents, Ramón Conde-Meléndez, 56, was the Director of Public Works in the municipality of Guayama from 2013 until 2022. In 2019 and 2021, Conde- Meléndez agreed to receive and received cash payments from an individual (Individual A) in exchange for certifying that the asphalt and paving company (Company A) completed asphalt projects in the municipality. The certification was required for the approval of invoices for payments from the municipality of Guayama to Company A. In 2019 and 2021, Conde- Meléndez received kickback payments, equaling $1 per each square meter of asphalt removed by Company A, which totaled more than $15,000. In addition to the term of imprisonment, he was sentenced to two years of supervised release. In May 2022, Conde- Meléndez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.
According to court documents, Pedro Marrero-Miranda, 54, was the Director of Public Works in the municipality of Cataño from 2017 until 2021. In 2019, 2020, and 2021, Marrero-Miranda agreed to receive and received cash payments from Individual A and another individual (Individual B) in exchange for the distribution of asphalt removal projects by the municipality of Cataño to Company A, and the certification of invoices for payments from the municipality of Cataño to Company A. Specifically, Marrero-Miranda received multiple kickback payments equaling approximately $1 for each square meter of asphalt removed by Company A in the municipality of Cataño, which totaled more than $40,000. In addition to the term of imprisonment, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release. In June 2022, Marrero-Miranda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.
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 González of the FBI San Juan Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI San Juan Field Office investigated the cases.
Trial Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe for the District of Puerto Rico prosecuted the cases.
These cases are part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to combat public corruption by municipal officials in Puerto Rico. In addition to the above matters, the Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico have recently obtained convictions against other former public officials and contractors in the District of Puerto Rico for soliciting and accepting bribes related to municipal contracts. See United States v. Félix Delgado-Montalvo, 21-463 (RAM); United States v. Oscar Santamaria-Torres, 21-464 (RAM); United States v. Raymond Rodríguez, 21-465 (RAM); United States v. Mario Villegas-Vargas, 21-468 (FAB); United States v. Luis Arroyo-Chiques, 21-485 (SCC); United States v. Eduardo Cintron-Suarez, 22-151 (SCC); Jose Luis Cruz-Cruz, 22-276 (SCC); United States Jose Bou-Santiago, 22-379 (ADC).
Additionally, federal grand juries recently indicted several former officials with bribery related to municipal contracts, and those cases are still pending. See United States v. Ángel Pérez-Otero, 21-474 (ADC); United States v. Radamés Benítez-Cardona, 21-475 (PAD); United States v. Javier García-Pérez, 22-185 (ADC); and United States v. Reinaldo Vargas-Rodríguez, 22-186 (PAD).
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.