SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a nine-count indictment on November 4, 2020 against legislator Nestor Alonso-Vega, for his alleged participation in a theft, bribery, and kickback scheme. U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Rafael Riviere Vázquez made the announcement.
“Public corruption poses a threat to our democratic institutions, erodes confidence in government, and, if left unchecked, can tear apart the very fabric of our democracy,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “My office will continue to diligently investigate and prosecute public corruption schemes to protect the public and hold these persons involved accountable for their actions.”
“As I have said before, public corruption erodes public trust in its government institutions. Very few other violations can cause the generalized public anxiety and civil unrest, which corruption does. This is why public corruption is and will remain FBI San Juan’s top priority,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Riviere Vázquez. “The public is reminded that coming forward to report acts of corruption is not only in everyone’s best interests, but it is also a civic and patriotic duty, of everyone who loves this beautiful island.”
The indictment charges Alonso-Vega with Federal Funds Theft, Bribery, and Kickbacks; and Honest Services Wire Fraud. Alonso-Vega, aided and abetted by others, executed said scheme from April 2018 through September 2020.
As detailed in the indictment, between April 2018 and September 2020, Alonso-Vega authorized several salary adjustments for Person A, an employee in Alonso-Vega’s legislative office. Between in or about February 2018, and in or about April 2018, Person A’s bi-weekly, net government salary was approximately $760.02. Starting in or about April 2018, Person A’s bi-weekly, net government salary was increased to approximately $1,446.52 by Alonso-Vega. Starting in or about May 2018, Person A’s bi-weekly, net government salary was increased to approximately $2,043.08. Starting in or about July 2018, Person A’s bi-weekly, net government salary was decreased to approximately $1,417.00, due to an across-the-board budget cut. However, starting in or about October 2019, Person A’s bi-weekly, net government salary was again increased to approximately $2,270.68 by Alonso-Vega, and remained at that level until in or about July 2020, when Person A left Alonso-Vega’s office.
Out of every inflated paycheck, it was agreed that Person A would kickback to Alonso-Vega half of the total amount of the pay raise, split between each pay day.
The indictment further alleges that Person A used a variety of means to transfer the kickbacks to Alonso-Vega. For example, Person A would sometimes transfer money by using ATH Móvil, a mobile phone application that allows individuals who bank at certain financial institutions to send money to each other through an interface on their cell phones; make withdrawals around the time he received his directly deposited paycheck and pay Alonso-Vega in cash; and, at times, Person A would make payments to Alonso-Vega’s Home Depot account.
The indictment is the result of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Anderson.
The federal program bribery and theft charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each count of honest services wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
# # #