Mr. Reinaldo Cestero is a private investigator and a retired Chief Deputy United States Marshal, who works in Puerto Rico. I asked Mr. Cestero about the superseding indictment filed in U.S.A. v. Acevedo-Vila, et. al., which charged Puerto Rico’s Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila, (and /or twelve co-defendants), with: conspiracy; false statements; wire fraud; federal program fraud; and filing false tax returns.
When I inquired whether there was a prevailing view in San Juan about the Governor’s indictment, Mr. Cestero answered: "The trial is supposed to start in February. The public is split down the middle. About half think that the Governor has been falsely accused as a result of a conspiracy between the Blue Party [Partido Nuevo Progresista] and the United States. The other half are disgusted, and think that the Governor is guilty of public corruption."
The Governor’s above-mentioned indictment arises from allegations that he had several businessman pay off large unreported campaign debt, in violation of 2 U.S.C. §431 et. seq., the Federal Election Campaign Act. The first count of the superseding indictment specifically charged violations of 18 U.S.C. §371 (conspiracy); 2 U.S.C. §441a et. seq. (limitations on contributions / expenditures); and 18 U.S.C. §§1001 (a) (1) & (a) (2) (false statements). According to the first count, about sixteen collaborators had made illegal off-the-book campaign contributions to the Governor’s political campaign committee. The collaborators had allegedly paid false invoices issued by a media / public relations company. The indictment further alleged that said company ultimately applied the paid invoices as credit against debt owed by the Governor’s political campaign committee.
The first count also essentially alleged that the Governor had used his family, staff and others as nominees or "conduits", to illegally make campaign contributions. These "conduit contributions" were even sometimes allegedly made with funds from the Governor. Count one additionally claimed that the Governor, (and/ or one of his associates), had contacted the Office of Management and Budget, the Puerto Rico Housing Department and the Puerto Rico Pension Fund, to promote the business interests of some of the conduit contributors. Perhaps most interesting however, is that an April 28, 2008 Daily News’ article indicates that the Governor is still running for re-election in Puerto Rico’s November gubernatorial race– despite the fact of his indictment.
Copyright 2008 Fred L. Abrams