The former senator of the New Progressive Party (PNP) Abel Nazario pleaded guilty this Friday to a criminal charge of corruption against him in the Federal Court of Old San Juan.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office indicated that the parties agreed to recommend a sentence of 18 months in prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for next January 13. Until then, he will remain free on bail.
with his lawyer Maria Dominguezthe also former mayor appeared before Judge Francisco Besosa, after in the middle of this month he accepted the offer made by the federal prosecutor to reach an agreement.
Nazario was charged with “theft or bribery related to programs with federal funds,” since the complaint alleges that when he was mayor of Yauco he used municipal funds to hire employees who did not work at the city hall, while they did participate in his campaign to be elected senator.
During the hearing, prosecutor Scott Anderson reported that had he gone to trial, he would have presented documentary, physical, and witness evidence to achieve a guilty verdict before a jury.
“Guilty,” Nazario replied when asked by the judge what allegation he was making this morning in relation to the indictment, issued by a federal grand jury in November 2019.
Upon leaving the court, Nazario claimed to be “totally calm.” Regarding accepting the plea deal, he stated, “I think it was a good decision on my part,” but he did not want to go into further detail about his determination.
“That is what I have to say until the sentence,” added the former official, who said that he will present more information in a book that he has in process and hopes to publish when the entire case is over.
He also said that in December he hopes to finish his doctoral degree in “Political Communication”, which he is studying remotely with a university in Spain.
“It is something general (what the book will say). It is part of my life. It is what has touched me and I have come today to accept my responsibility as part of my agreement. Later I will be able to speak with all the freedom”, he commented.
However, he maintained that he made the right decision in accepting the deal.
“I was already prepared for it (signing the agreement). Otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it. I did it with the conviction that he had the responsibility, “he added. “I think it was important to determine some points, they were determined, I am satisfied and I am aware of that responsibility.”
On the facts that were alleged against him, Nazario said that he is “totally sorry for having followed an inadequate process.”
In another case, in March 2020, a jury of six men and six women found Nazario Quiñones guilty for 28 counts of presenting false documents and electronic fraud in relation to a scheme that he allegedly devised while he was mayor of Yauco to deceive his own employees.
For that other case, Nazario was sentenced to 18 months in prison and restitution of $19,774.50. But, after serving almost three months, Judge Joseph Laplante allowed him to be released on parole while handling your appeal.
Outside federal court this morning, Nazario noted that the agreement now submitted to the court proposes to the judge that the sentences in both cases can be served at the same time.
He explained that “what it establishes is that if the judge leaves for the agreement, we would be in a position to withdraw the appeal of the other case. Otherwise, it is concurrent and the two sentences are served simultaneously.
For his part, Domínguez said that the appeal “is progressing” and that at the moment they are waiting for the report from the federal prosecutor’s office, before Boston decides if there will be an argumentative hearing.
“We understand that the appeal is well ‘considered’, since our client was released because our bail motion was granted on appeal, and, obviously, you know what the standard is for that, that the judge saw the arguments and the legal proposals , as weighty approaches”, he stressed.
Regarding the time he was in prison, Nazario assured that he was “calm. Both the officers and the inmates treated me well. It was a difficult experience… you don’t wish it on anyone, because no one wants to be entrusted or imprisoned, or restrained from their freedom, which is the most precious thing they have”.
“But I can’t say I had a bad time. At no time was I afraid of anything, neither was I harmed nor did I have any controversy with the officers or with any inmate. I spent it reading. Precisely that week that I was released, by decision of the court, I began to teach Hispanics, ”she added.
While, Juan Rosario Nunezwho is one of the co-defendants in the “ghost employee” case, also pleaded guilty to the same charge Nazario faced.
The Public Ministry requested at least six months in prison for Rosario Núñez, which is the lowest amount suggested by the sentencing guidelines, which was scheduled for January 13, 2023. Meanwhile, Juan Rosario Nunezwho is one of the co-defendants, also pleaded guilty to the same charge that Nazario faced.
The Public Ministry requested at least six months in prison for Rosario Núñez, which is the lowest amount suggested by the sentencing guidelines, which was scheduled for January 13, 2023.
The other defendants are identified in the statement as Edwin Torres Gutierrezspecial assistant to the former mayor; Claribel Rodriguez CanchaniDirector of Human Resources of the Municipality; Humberto Pagan Sanchez, Kelvin Ortiz-Vegarra, Ramon Martes Negron Y Eric Rondon Rodriguez.
In previous motions, Ortiz Vegarra and Rondón Rodríguez had informed the court that they reached agreements with the prosecution to plead guilty.
During a hearing last June, Ms. Anita Hilla lawyer for Pagán Sánchez, informed the judge that she was in negotiations with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to negotiate a plea deal.
The other lawyers were in the process of completing the evaluation of the evidence that the Public Ministry finally delivered that month.
Nazario Quiñones and the other seven people were indicted by a federal grand jury.who issued arrest warrants that were executed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, for its acronym in English) on November 6, 2019.
At that time, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office explained in a press release that when Nazario Quiñones was mayor of Yauco he conspired – with the assistance of Torres Gutiérrez and Rodríguez Canchani – to pay the other co-defendants with municipal funds to work on the defendant’s senatorial campaign. Nazario Quinones.
“Another purpose was for the irregular employees to provide assistance to the campaigns of other political parties whose support Nazario Quiñones would need to win the senatorial election and for a later candidacy to become president of the Senate,” the statement from US Attorney Stephen Muldrow added.
The defendants face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000.