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Tag: Puerto Rico

FBI Agent Robbed at Gunpoint in Puerto Rico, Stealing Bureau Credentials And Official Weapon

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are looking for three men who robbed an FBI agent at gunpoint in an attempted carjacking in Puerto Rico.

The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information about the three suspects who were driving a black Mercedes Benz, the Associated Press reports.

The suspects stole the agent’s wallet, FBI credentials and official firearm Saturday night in the Ocean Park neighborhood in the capital of San Juan.

While the number of reported carjackings have increased in Puerto Rico this year, crimes are rare in Ocean Park.

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.

FBI Arrests Former Top Puerto Rico Officials in Corruption Case

Puerto Rico flag.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI arrested two former top officials in Puerto Rico for allegedly directing about $15.5 million in federal funding to political connected businesses.

According to prosecutors, Julia Keleher, former secretary of the department of education, and Angela Avila-Marrero, former head of the Health Insurance Administration, illegally directed the money to contractors who paid “unauthorized commissions” to help lobby for more contracts.

Both officials served in the administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, prompting officials to calls for his resignation. Among those officials is Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, who is the chair of the Natural Resources Committee that oversees Puerto Rico.

“The Puerto Rican people deserve a government that takes public service seriously, that’s transparent and accountable, and that doesn’t let this happen in the first place,” Grijalva said in a statement.

The 32-count indictment charged four other consultants with wire fraud, theft and money laundering.

The charges come at a political sensitive time. Congress recently approved billions of dollars in aid to the island. It wasn’t immediately clear whether that money is now in jeopardy.

DEA Agent Accused of Helping Drug Cartel Was Denied Bond Because of ‘Double Life’

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a Puerto Rican drug cartel was ordered to stay behind bars Monday until his September trial.

DEA Agent Fernando Gomez, who worked in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico.

Manhattan federal Judge Jesse Furman denied bail to Gomez, saying he was a flight risk because he lived double lives for decades, New York Post reports.

“It raises in my mind an extraordinary level of deviousness,” Furman said.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

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?

Read more »

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.