Former Mayor Of Gurabo Found Guilty Of Public Corruption
SAN JUAN, P.R. – After a four-day jury trial, Victor M. Ortiz-Díaz, a.k.a. “Manolito”, former mayor of the municipality of Gurabo, Puerto Rico, was found guilty of one count of bribery, announced United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. United States District Court Judge Jay A. Garcia-Gregory presided over the trial. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was in charge of the investigation.
According to the indictment, on or about October 2012, the Municipality of Gurabo owed Company A payments for eight outstanding invoices for work performed in the municipality. Person A, co-owner of Company A, met with mayor Ortiz-Díaz to discuss the outstanding debt. The mayor solicited $125,000 from Person A to invest in a telecommunications antenna project. Because Company A did not have the money to pay the $125,000, the mayor told Person A that he would have the municipality make a payment to the company. With this money, Company A could be able to cover the “loan” to Ortiz-Díaz, as well as pay other debts it owed its suppliers.
On October 19, 2012, Person A issued three post-dated Company A checks payable to three different individuals, who were employees of Miguel Merced. Merced was the individual orchestrating the telecommunications investment scheme in which Ortiz-Díaz invested the three checks totaling $125,000. On that same date, the Municipality of Gurabo issued two checks totaling $196,643.26 payable to Company A for contracting work performed.
Unbeknownst to him, Ortiz-Díaz used the money he extorted from Person A in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme run by Merced, who recently concluded a six-year prison sentence. The jury acquitted Ortiz-Díaz of the extortion charge pending against him.
This case was investigated by the FBI and HUD-OIG, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott Anderson. The defendant faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The sentencing is scheduled for July 2, 2020.
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