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Tag: Puerto Rico

FBI Probes $300 Million Contract With Whitefish Energy Holdings, Which Has Ties to Trump Administration

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaojaaaajdqzmwixmwq1lwfingqtnge3ni04mtvmltuxztm4zwnhmdrknwBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The FBI has opened a preliminary inquiry into the $300 million Whitefish Energy Holdings contract secured by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which has ties to the Trump administration, CNN reports.

The Montana energy firm was contracted to rebuild the damaged electrical grid that was destroyed by hurricanes that struck the island. The story was first reported by the The Wall Street Journal.

The company is based in and named after the small hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The CEO is an acquaintance of the secretary, CNN reports.  An investment firm that owns a major stake in the company is run by a donor to Trump’s presidential campaign.

 

Parker: Three Key Criminal Cases Before U.S. Supreme Court in January

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes will consider three criminal cases in oral arguments scheduled for January 12 and 13. The effect of the decisions are not broad, but the cases illustrate the Court’s responsibility to keep the criminal justice system as construed by the lower courts consistent, rational, and based on precedent.

Those who are not part of the criminal justice system are often surprised when they learn that Double Jeopardy does not prevent separate sovereigns from launching separate prosecutions for the same conduct by a defendant. The most common example is when a defendant faces charges from a single course of conduct in both state and federal court. An acquittal or conviction in one jurisdiction does not preclude charges in another since each has the right to define and punish offenses committed in its jurisdiction.

Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle will decide whether that territory and the federal government are separate sovereigns permitting dual prosecutions. First, a bit of history. The United States obtained the island from Spain after the Spanish American War in 1898. It was a “splendid little war” which made the U.S. a colonial power and made Teddy Roosevelt the President. What could establish his executive qualifications better than the ability to lead a bunch of cowboys and polo players up San Juan Hill?

After the treaty in 1899 Congress established a civil government there with the Governor and the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico appointed by the President and any laws passed by the legislature submitted to Congress for potential annulment. In 1950 Congress offered Puerto Rico a “compact” of self-government. The islanders passed a Constitution in 1952, which was approved by Congress and President Truman. The Constitution removed the oversight powers of the President and the United States Congress, and Puerto Rico was empowered to make its own criminal laws.

Sanchez Valle was charged with illegal sale of firearms by Puerto Rican authorities. While the case was pending, however, he pled guilty to the federal version of the same offense and was sentenced to 5 months in prison, a much lighter sentence than the one he faced by the territorial charges. The trial court dismissed those latter charges as violating Double Jeopardy. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court agreed, holding that Puerto Rico was not a separate sovereign from the United States government.

The case comes down to whether the source of Puerto Rico’s authority to pass and enforce criminal laws is the 1952 Constitution or the ratification of this Constitution by Congress. Is Puerto Rico a sovereign part of the federal system in the same sense as states or an Indian tribe or is there enough of a vestige of colonialism to make the federal government the ultimate source of public power?

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Puerto Rico Man Charged with Threatening U.S. Attorney from Prison

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Puerto Rico man has been arrested and charged with threatening a U.S. Attorney while in jail, the FBI said Monday.

Jose Villafane-Cotto was charged last week with mailing threatening communication and threatening a federal official.

He is accused of threatening U.S. Attorney Rose Emilia Rodriguez Velez of the District of Puerto Rico in a letter.

“I want to inform the federal court that Rosa Emilia Rodriguez has a few days to announce her resignation or she will pay with her life,” the letter reads in Spanish.

The return address was the Pomce Correctional Facilities, where Villafane-Cotto has been lodged.

Villafane-Cotto also is accused of making threatening phone calls. In one, he allegedly said, ““Rosa Emilia, it’s me, Jose Villafane Cotto; remember I am after you and I’m searching for you. Please remember that. Don’t think that because I’m inside I can’t be outside. I’ll leave you with that. I know where you are and where you are going. I am not going to tell you anything else. I left you a very clear message. I hope you have received my letters. In an alerted war, nobody dies.”

FBI Raids Office of Puerto Rico-Based Doral Bank Following Regulatory Struggles

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI raided the Puerto Rico headquarters of Doral Bank in search of evidence related to “several ongoing investigations” Tuesday following questions about the lender’s ability to meet regulatory mandates, Bloomberg reports.

The FBI confirmed it collected computers and documents from the San  Juan bank’s offices but declined to elaborate on the investigation.

Doral has been under pressure to maintain compliance with capital requirements and reportedly was looking for a buyer for some of its business, Bloomberg wrote.

Doral spokeswoman Miriam Warren said the bank is fully cooperating with the investigation.

“We look forward to sharing more on the focus of the investigation as we learn more,” she said in a statement.

FBI: Puerto Rico Man Arrested for Aiming Laser Pointer at Police Helicopter

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As part of the FBI’s crackdown on people pointing lasers at aircraft, authorities arrested a Puerto Rican man Monday, the Associated Press reports.

The FBI arrested Christopher Jusino Rodriguez in the southern city of Ponce after he allegedly aimed the laser at a police helicopter during a security operation.

The green light was spotting coming from an apartment balcony, helping police locate Jusino.

The FBI said the suspect was using a handheld pointer known as a laser pen.

If convicted, Jusino faces up to five years in prison.

FBI Investigates Whether Man Jumped from Royal Carribean Cruise Ship

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Did he jump? Was it an accident?

The FBI is investigating how a 26-year-old man ended up overboard as a cruise ship sailed to Puerto Rico, UPI reports.

According to a Coast Guard statement, Tien Phuoc Nguyen intentionally jumped off the Royal Caribbean ship Adventure of the Seas on Saturday.

Nguyen was on the boat with family.

The ship turned around but Nguyen wasn’t found.

ICE: Crackdown on Crime Makes Puerto Rico, U.S. Safer

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. and Puerto Rico are safer today because of an anti-crime initiative aimed at putting more federal agents in Puerto Rico, Reuters reports.

Dubbed “Operation Caribbean Resilience,” the effort started in July 2012 but increased markedly over the last three months, according to Reuters.

In the past year, the operation has netted 320 arrests and the seizure of 170 guns, drugs and ammunition.

“Through our joint efforts … we have not only made the streets of Puerto Rico much safer, but also improved security in the mainland United States,” said John Sandweg, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The operation has begun to target drug gangs and criminal enterprises, Reuters reported.

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FBI Names New Special Agent in Charge of Puerto Rico Office

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new FBI agent will oversee operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Carlos Cases, previously served as director for Latin America and the southwest border for the FBI’s criminal investigations division in Washington, D.C., will monitor crimes in U.S. territories from the San Juan, Puerto Rico office, the FBI announced.

Working outside of the mainland is nothing new for Cases. He worked at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and also at the FBI office in Puerto Rico, where he played a role one of the bureau’s largest public corruption cases of local police.

Cases replaces Joseph Campbell, who served most recently as special agent in charge of the Puerto Rico office.