Tuesday, August 19, 2008
TDD (202) 514-1888
Puerto Rico Governor, Senior Aide and Former Campaign Director Indicted on Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today returned an indictment against Puerto Rico Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, a senior aide and a former campaign director for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced. Today’s indictment follows an earlier indictment, returned on March 24, 2008, which charged these same defendants and others with related crimes.
The five-count indictment returned today in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, charges Acevedo Vilá, 46, of San Juan; Luisa Inclán Bird, 47, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and Miguel Nazario Franco, 61, of San Juan with honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Acevedo Vilá was Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives between 2001 and 2005, and has been the Governor of Puerto Rico since 2005. Inclán Bird, a lawyer, was a legal advisor for the San Juan Resident Commissioner Office when defendant Acevedo Vilá served as Resident Commissioner and a volunteer in the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign. Currently, Inclán Bird is a senior advisor for Governor Acevedo Vilá. Nazario Franco, a businessman in Puerto Rico, was director of the finance department for Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign.
According to the indictment, the charges are focused on two related courses of conduct. The first, in counts one through four, alleges that the defendants deprived the citizens of Puerto Rico of the honest services of Acevedo Vilá as Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Specifically, the indictment alleges that during his campaign for governor, and continuing after he was elected and inaugurated, Acevedo Vilá and others connected with his campaign solicited and received approximately $250,000 from a local businessman, referred to as "Collaborator 18," for the benefit of Acevedo Vilá and his campaign. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that during his term as governor, Acevedo Vilá participated in official actions intended to aid the business interests of Collaborator 18, while failing to disclose the nature and extent of his financial relationship with Collaborator 18.