By Steve Neavling
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.