John Blakemancollaborator and collector of the electoral campaign of the former governor Wanda Vazquez Garcedpleaded guilty last March to conspiracy, federally funded bribery and scheme to kickbackafter reaching an agreement with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.
The information came to light this Thursday at a time when the arrest of Vázquez Garced for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, in English). The indictment in the Blakeman case was unsealed by the federal judge Francis Kiss at 8:00 a.m. today.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 5.
In a press conference from the offices of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, in Hato Rey, the head of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Puerto Rico, Stephen Muldrowdetailed that Blakeman pleaded guilty as well as Frances Diaz, former president of Bancrédito, of participating in a bribery scheme to finance the electoral campaign of Vázquez Garced in 2020. The owner of that international bank, Julio Herrera Velutini is among the defendants along with the former governor and Mark Rossinia former FBI agent.
Read the indictment:
“Through intermediaries, Herrera Velutini and Rossini promised to finance Vázquez Garced’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign, in exchange for Vázquez Garced firing the commissioner of the OCIF (Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of Puerto Rico) and appointing a new commissioner, who would be chosen by Herrera Velutini,” explained Muldrow.
According to the indictment that was made public this morning, between December 2019 and August 2021, Blakeman “knowingly and deliberately conspired and agreed” with several figures -including Diaz- “to corruptly give things of value to one or more public officials of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.”
The 21-page document adds that, at some point between December 2019 and June 2020, Blakeman participated in a meeting that Herrera Velutini – identified in the indictment as “Foreign National 1″” – held with “Public Official A” – Vázquez Garced– to discuss Herrera Velutini’s request to remove the OCIF commissioner and appoint a new one, in exchange for monetary payments.
Last May, The new day revealed that Blakeman was in negotiations with federal authorities to plead guilty.
The government consultant was administrator of Public Housing between December 1997 and June 1998 during the administration of Pedro Rossello. In 2001, he was confirmed as Director of the San Juan Housing Department under the administration of former Mayor Jorge Santini. In 2008, he was a legislative aide to former Governor Pedro Rosselló in his role as senator. In 2018, he served as director of operations of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA).
Through his company JMB Consulting, he has been a regular donor to the main candidates of the New Progressive Party (PNP) from 2011 to present. During that period, he contributed $19,463 in electoral campaigns of candidates for the PNP, among them, the former senatorial president Thomas Rivera Schatz ($6,303) and the former governor Ricardo Rossello ($3,800). In 2020, he supported Vázquez Garced with $2,800.
Both Blakeman and Diaz face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.