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June 11, 2015

Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Accepting Bribes in Connection with Vehicular Homicide Trial

A Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge was sentenced today to 10 years in prison today after being convicted earlier this year of accepting bribes to acquit a businessman of vehicular homicide charges. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico made the announcement.

In January, a federal jury convicted Judge Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez, 63, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and receipt of a bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. Chief U.S. District Judge Aida M. Delgado of the District of Puerto Rico imposed the sentence.

Acevedo-Hernandez presided over the trial of Lutgardo Acevedo-Lopez, 39, a certified public accountant in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Acevedo-Lopez was charged with criminal vehicular homicide based on his role in a June 2012 collision involving the vehicle he was driving and another car, which resulted in the death of the other driver.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Acevedo-Lopez used an intermediary to bribe Acevedo-Hernandez by paying taxes owed by Acevedo-Hernandez; paying for the construction of a garage for Acevedo-Hernandez’s home; and providing Acevedo-Hernandez with a motorcycle, clothing and accessories, including cufflinks and a watch. In exchange, Acevedo-Hernandez acquitted Acevedo-Lopez of all charges.

In August 2014, Acevedo-Lopez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and to paying a bribe to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. Acevedo-Lopez has not yet been sentenced.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter Mason and Menaka Kalaskar of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Capó of the District of Puerto Rico.

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