the former governor Wanda Vazquez Garcedarrested last Thursday by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, in English), waived his arraignment hearing and pleaded not guilty to allegedly conspiring and accepting bribes to finance his 2020 election campaign.
It appears from the case file that the motion was filed by the attorney Ignacio Fernandez de Lahongrais on Saturday, August 6. The case is in the hands of the federal judge Raul Arias Marxuach.
“A plea of not guilty is entered on behalf of the defendant Vázquez Garced as to all charges brought against her in the indictment. The parties will have seven days for the discovery and 14 days thereafter to present any motion”, reads the motion signed by the magistrate Camille L. Velez Rive and today’s date, Monday.
The new day He requested to speak with the defense, but a press spokesman for the former governor reported that, at the moment, they will not issue statements on the case.
Vázquez Garced, who was in La Fortaleza for just 17 months, faces three charges of conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud, and if found guilty, could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In total, there are seven charges altogether that are attributed to the former governor and the co-defendants Julio Herrera Velutinia Venezuelan international banker who owns Bancrédito International Bank & Trust Corporation, and a former FBI agent Mark Rossini.
The accusatory statement maintains that, from around December 2019 to June 2020, the then governor, Herrera Velutini and Rossini “knowingly and willfully conspired” with others to “commit crimes against the United States.”
According to the document, since the beginning of 2019, the international banker, together with his co-conspirators, sought to interfere with both the functions of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of Puerto Rico (OCIF) and those of the Office of Control of Financial Crimes of the Department of the United States Treasury.
The accusation highlights that Herrera Velutini and Rossini agreed to provide “thousands of dollars” in funds to support the campaign for the governorship of Vázquez Garced in exchange for the former Secretary of Justice demanding the departure of the then OCIF commissioner, George Richard Joyner Kellywho carried out an audit of Bancrédito.
The alleged agreement included Vázquez Garced appointing a new OCIF commissioner that Herrera Velutini favored. Vázquez Garced appointed Victor Rodriguez Bonilla to the post in May 2020. Rodríguez Bonilla was a consultant for Bancrédito.
In this case, they pleaded guilty in the federal sphere. John Blakemancollaborator of the Vázquez Garced campaign, and Frances Díaz, chief executive officer (CEO, in English) of Bancrédito.
Vazquez Garced was released on $50,000 secured bond. Upon leaving the federal court, he said that the federal charges filed against him are an “injustice.”
Herrera Velutini is in London, while Rossini is in Madrid. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office in San Juan confirmed that it is in communication with both countries to possibly initiate extradition proceedings. This could cause some delay, but it will not stop the judicial process against the former governor.