The mayor of Gurabo, Victor Ortiz Díaz, was arrested by the FBI on December 7 on charges of extortion and soliciting bribes. The mayor may face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The U.S. Attorney of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, confirmed that Díaz is also being investigated for involvement in drug trafficking, and that $23,000 in cash was found in his home.
The alleged crimes began in October 12: when Díaz demanded a “fee” of $125,000, before he would release some funds that were owed to a city contractor.
Díaz then proceeded to “invest” close to $200,000 in city monies, in a fraudulent “Ponzi scheme” company…and all the money disappeared.
Now in 2016, as part of his defense, the mayor claims that he was a “victim” of the Ponzi scheme operators, and that he did nothing wrong. However, U.S. Attorney Rodríguez announced that “it is the citizens of Gurabo, who were the victims of his corrupt acts.”
PERFECT TIMING FOR THE FINANCIAL CONTROL BOARD
Unfortunately, this is perfect ammunition and timing for the US Financial Control Board (FCB) which is planning to inflict a series of “austerities” on the island in 2017.
Two weeks ago, the town of Toa Baja had to shut down, when the IRS froze all its bank accounts. Apparently a previous mayor, Anibal Vega Borges, had collected $1.5 million in social security taxes from 884 city employees, and then “misplaced” all of the tax money.
In December 2015, ten government officials were arrested by the FBI for wire fraud and extortion.
In 2012, the mayor of Barceloneta, Sol Luis Fontanes, was also arrested by the FBI for bribery and public corruption.
All of this plays perfectly into the hands of the FCB. It provides them a rationale for supposedly “cleaning up” the government of Puerto Rico, while ignoring the larger issues of:
All of these large-scale structural issues will remain ignored and unchallenged, while the FBI continues arresting petty Puerto Rican politician / criminals.
FBI and FCB…WORKING TOGETHER AS A TAG-TEAM
The FBI, in effect, will be acting as a public relations vehicle for the FCB. It will help to define the FCB mission as “rooting out Puerto Rico corruption,” rather than reforming the island’s economy.
We can thank the low-rent politicians from both the PPD and the PNP for this.
The middle management of those two political parties – the mayors and agency bureaucrats – all see Luis Fortuño and Alejandro Garcia Padilla getting away with millions, so they try to chisel a little piece for themselves.
When they get caught, the FBI makes an “example” of them, while the real buccaneers – Fortuño, Garcia Padilla, John Paulson, the vulture funds – all sail away scot-free.
Thanks to all of them – from Fortuño on down – the FCB now has a growing alibi for bringing more “austerity” to Puerto Rico.