Mayor of Río Grande Indicted on Charges of Bribery, Extortion, and Obstruction of Justice
|U.S. Department of Justice July 10, 2014|
WASHINGTON—Today, Eduard Rivera-Correa, mayor of the municipality of Río Grande, Puerto Rico, was arrested by FBI agents on charges of bribery, attempted extortion and obstruction of justice, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The indictment authorized by a federal grand jury this week charges Rivera-Correa with one count of bribery, one count of attempted extortion and two counts of obstruction of justice. The indictment also charges attorney Alejandro Carrasco with four counts of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
According to the indictment, attorney Carrasco and mayor Rivera-Correa, did corruptly solicit, demand, and knowingly accepted and agreed to accept kickbacks from a person known as Contractor A, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with different business transactions involving $5,000 or more for construction consulting services. The payments received by the mayor exceeded $39,000, and the payments received by attorney Carrasco exceeded $183,365. Attorney Carrasco provided legal services to the municipalities of Barceloneta, Juncos and Río Grande during this time and obtained kickbacks in exchange for his assistance with securing these contracts.
Rivera-Correa is also charged in count six with attempted extortion of political contributions through the sales of political tickets to a dinner. According to the indictment and motion for detention pending trial, Rivera-Correa used his office and economic fear to extort $4,000 from Contractor A. The tickets, as described in the motion for bail pending appeal were presented by Rivera-Correa as the “keys for 2013” or “passes for 2013” and sold in exchange for continued business with the Municipality of Rio Grande.
“Dishonest public officials who request illegal payments from contractors as a regular course of business do not serve the interests of their constituents. This alleged breach of public trust will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “We will continue to prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust for personal gain.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel, Charles R. Walsh. The Office of Government Ethics collaborated during the investigation.
If found guilty, the defendants could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Criminal indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.