Deputy Mayor GuaynaboThis Thursday noon, Luisa Colom Garcia ordered the cancellation of the contract with Island Builders. from the lawyer Oscar Santamaria, who pleaded guilty to a bribery and corruption scheme in the municipality of Cattaneo. Mayor of Guinabo, Angel Perez OteroHe was arrested at dawn by agents Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly benefiting from a scheme similar to Cataño.
In the same way, Colom Garcia has indicated that he does not intend to aspire to be mayor of Guinabo once the special elections scheduled for January 8, 2021 take place.. The official will remain in office for the 30 days provided by the current laws.
As a deputy mayor, I am appalled by the accusations against the mayor. I take all corrective measures to protect the public interest and prevent services from being affected. In addition, I referred the matter to the Guaynabo Office of Internal Audit and to other auditing agencies and entities, including the General Services Administration. They will have all cooperation from me to conduct their investigations.
Colom Garcia noted that after conducting an analysis of the existing contracts, they did not find another agreement related to the company that they had to cancel. However, he reported that he had ordered the temporary suspension of all town hall auctions.
The deputy mayor also notified all municipality managers of the order to stop the mayor and the consequences of violating that order.
“The contract was to build and rehabilitate a section of the Ríos de Guaynabo neighborhood. Upon request for cancellation, all related functions are stopped. I do not have the exact amount (cost) of the contract. Colom Garcia confirmed that these businesses are currently paralyzed and we are evaluating how to continue with these tasks, Decide yet Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor’s Panel Obvi has suspended Perez Otero from his position as mayor until the federal judicial process is complete..
On the other hand, to the questions of this newspaper, the Deputy Mayor confirmed that there was an offer by Waste Collection Corp. , a subsidiary of Santamaría, to operate a recycling plant for recharging in the municipality of Guaynabo. However, he argued, municipal law clearly states that there can be no contracts with any company whose directors, shareholders, or officers have pleaded guilty to corruption at the state or federal level, so that proposal was outside the scope of the bid for this contract.
When contacted about whether he had requested a letter of resignation from Pérez Otero, Colom García avoided responding directly and emphasized that his priority was to keep the services provided by the City Council to citizens running.
Colom Garcia confirmed that, for the time being, he has not received a letter of resignation from Perez Otero or any other official in his administration.
Chief of the Federal District Attorney’s Office for Puerto Rico, William Stephen Moldow, clarified earlier today that the corruption scheme accused by Perez Otero includes Waste Collection Corp and JR Asphalt Inc. , owned by Santamaria and Raymond Rodriguez, respectively.
For this scheme in Cataño, he pleaded guilty to bribery and illegal kickbacks (commissions) now former mayor of Cataño Félix “El Cano” Delgado. Santamaria, a lawyer by profession, also pleaded guilty, while Mario Villegas Vargas, an official at JR Asphalt Inc. He pleaded his innocence.
Mario Vargas Villegas, is also facing corruption charges related to a similar scheme that was revealed last week.
And the deputy mayor explained that starting tomorrow, Friday, an evaluation of the jobs of the office of the first lady will be conducted, stressing that “these services must continue to be offered to the public.”
“Now what I want is transparency; to be able to see exactly what happened. It will take a long time to do a full audit,” said Colom Garcia.
Incidentally, it was Colom Garcia, who served as a judge of the Court of Appeal, who was sworn in by Pedro Pierluisi as governor in 2019, following the resignation of Ricardo Rossello Nevares. However, the Puerto Rican Supreme Court overturned the oath by declaring Pierluisi’s entry into office unconstitutional.
After the arrest, Colom Garcia reacted with surprise and promised to give continuity to the work of the municipal administration.
“This news affects us greatly. I am very sorry about what happened and we remember that it helps him to assume innocence”The deputy mayor said in written statements.
You can also read: What we know about the FBI arrests in Guaynabo and Trujillo Alto