Monday, August 18, 2014

Puerto Rico: Operating Through an Intermediary, Federal Judge Accepts Bribe

According to The Latin American Tribune, Puerto Rico businessman Lutgardo Acevedo-López pleaded guilty Friday (August 16) to bribing Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez, who presided over the businessman’s vehicular homicide trial and acquitted him of all charges.

According to The Latin American Tribune, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the US Justice Department’s Criminal Division, US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division made the announcement of the bribery of a federal judge in San Juan.

According to court filings, Lutgardo Acevedo-Lopez, 39, was a certified public accountant in Aguadilla. On June 30, 2012, a car driven by Acevedo-López collided with another car, resulting in the death of the other car’s driver.

Acevedo-López was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the incident.

Judge Acevedo-Hernández, a supervisory superior court judge in the Aguadilla judicial region of Puerto Rico, presided over the case and acquitted Acevedo-López of all charges.

In his plea agreement, Acevedo-López admitted that he bribed Judge Acevedo-Hernández to use his official position as a court official for Acevedo-López’s benefit.

COMMENT: Acevedo-López admitted that he used an intermediary to bribe Acevedo-Hernández by paying taxes owed by Acevedo-Hernández, paying for the construction of a garage for Acevedo-Hernández, and providing Acevedo-Hernández with a motorcycle, clothing and accessories, including cufflinks and a wrist watch. 

In exchange, Acevedo-Hernández acquitted Acevedo-López of all charges.

Judge Acevedo-López is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8, 2014, before Chief US District Judge Aida M. Delgado-Colón in San Juan.

Charges remain pending against Acevedo-Hernandez, who was charged with bribery-related offenses in an indictment unsealed on May 28, 2014, in the District of Puerto Rico. The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.