Two Puerto Rican mayors arrested, charged in bribery schemes

DOJ has been making an effort to crack down on corruption in Puerto Rico.

Updated: May 6, 2022 - 1:33pm

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The mayors of two Puerto Rican municipalities were arrested Thursday for allegedly soliciting bribes and committing extortion.

Javier García-Pérez, 46, the Mayor of Aguas Buenas, was allegedly involved in a bribery plot that spanned from 2017-2021, in which he accepted cash payments from two businessmen in exchange for awarding municipal contracts for waste disposal and other similar services. The indictment alleges that the mayor received at least $32,000 in cash payments from the men between August 2020 and September 2021.

A second unsealed indictment alleges that Reinaldo Vargas-Rodriguez, 48, the Mayor of Humacao, was involved in a bribery scheme that spanned from January-July 2021, throughout which he accepted cash payments from two businessmen also for waste disposal and asphalt paving services. Vargas-Rodriguez allegedly received at least $15,000 in cash payments from the businessman between March and April of 2021.

Each mayor, if convicted on all counts, could face up to 20 years in prison. Both cases are a part of the Justice Department's ongoing effort to crack down on corruption in Puerto Rico. A release from DOJ points out that in addition to the two mayors, "the department recently obtained indictments charging several former officials and contractors with bribery related to municipal contracts."