Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For August 30, 2016


PERELLO RESIGNS AS HOUSE SPEAKER

















From Caribbean Business:

"Jaime Perelló resigned from his position as Speaker of the Puerto Rico House
of Representatives Monday afternoon. He announced his resignation in the Ca-
pitol rotunda next to an original text of the Puerto Rico Constitution...Perelló
left his position after meeting with 16 lawmakers at the Capitol to discuss a tr-
ial underway in federal court of three former House employees under his dire-
ct supervision who were charged in a pay-for-play scheme to benefit the form-
er speaker’s fundraiser, Anaudi Hernández. During the trial Monday, Hernán-
dez said he raised more than $60,000 in cash for Perelló as part of a pyramid
scheme organized by attorney Irvin Faccio in which he was required to raise
$75,000 for the House leader..."


PUIG HEADS TO US OPEN AFTER GOLD MEDAL


From Bloomberg:

"Tennis player Monica Puig, who won the commonwealth’s first Olympic gold
medal in Rio de Janeiro earlier this month, competes Monday in her first match
this year at the U.S. Open in Queens, New York. Puig’s Olympic victory comes
amid dire Puerto Rico headlines of escalating debt, a broke pension system, a Zi-
ka outbreak, and a 10-year economic recession. Thousands of cheering fans gree-
ted her at the airport in San Juan when she arrived on Aug. 20, a week after her
win..."


BERNABE: AGRICULTURAL REFORM "URGENT"


From The San Juan Daily Star:

"Working People’s Party (PPT by its Spanish acronym) Rafael Bernabe said
late last week that the destruction of the island’s agriculture has been one of the
greatest tragedies in Puerto Rico’s recent history. Speaking at a forum sponsored
by the Puerto Rico Agriculture Association during its annual assembly, Bernabe
laid out some of the PPT’s proposals for the agricultural sector. “It’s a scandal that
today we import 85 percent of our food and that with the ability to export much
more and having a much broader food industry, we don’t do the first, and we don’t
have the second,” he said, according to an Inter News Service report. He added that
the reconstruction of island agriculture, with an agro-ecological emphasis, “is an ur-
gent and crucial task...”


LIBERTY GOES SOLAR AT LUQUILLO HQ


From News Is My Business:

"Oak Leaf Solar X LLC, a Yarotek entity, has installed 2,444 solar panels at Li-
berty Puerto Rico’s facility in Luquillo, making the provider’s operations more
sustainable and “reaffirming the companies’ respective commitments to Puerto
Rico and the environment,” the company announced Monday. Liberty entered
into a long-term power purchase agreement to buy its solar power from Oak Le-
af Solar X, an independent power producer and developer focused on solar energy..."



Friday, August 26, 2016

The Effects of Zika Start to Show


Nine fetuses and three infants have been identified as having diverse defects
linked to this virus















El Nuevo Dia

Marga Parés Arroyo


The first baby in Puerto Rico with severe microcephaly, due to the Zika virus
epidemic that’s sweeping the Island, could be born within three weeks.

There are 12 total known cases of fetuses and babies with birth defects linked
to this condition. There is at least one unborn child with microcephaly, three
fetuses and two babies with brain damage, two fetuses with growth restriction,
a baby with intrauterine growth restriction (IGR) who died shortly after being
born, two intrauterine fetal deaths, and one fetus with severe microcephaly that
is expected to be born within three weeks...[CONTINUE READING]


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Five Indicted For Moving Coke And Money Between NY And PR


U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release



















August 24, 2016

SAN JUAN, PR – This morning, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement
Task Force (OCEDTF) dismantled a drug trafficking organization responsi-
ble for the transportation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and drug
money between Puerto Rico and the Continental United States, announced
United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The Drug Enforce-
ment Administration (DEA) is in charge of the investigation with the colla-
boration of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security In-
vestigations (ICE-HSI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On August 23, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment
charging five individuals with participating in a conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute cocaine between the year 2009 through December 2013.
The defendants are: José G. Herrera-Olavarría, a.k.a. “Pito”; Richard Rodrí-
guez-Heredia; Luis Rodolfo Mejía, a.k.a. “Tripa”; Emilio J. González-Espi-
nal, a.k.a. “Buster”; and Cessy Martínez-Lantigua, wife of Herrera-Olavarría.

The investigation leading to today’s arrests uncovered that members of this
organization traveled on commercial flights that departed from the Luis Mu-
ñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA) to the continental United States
with kilograms of cocaine concealed inside suitcases. According to the indic-
tment, the defendants and co-conspirators also mailed controlled substances
to the continental United States.

The indictment alleges that the defendants sold the controlled substances in
the continental United States and would have the profits from the sales sent
back to Puerto Rico.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José A.
Contreras.

If found guilty, the defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years
to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A def-
endant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case was investigated by agents from the Organized Crime Drug Enforce-
ment Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug tra-
fficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quanti-
ties of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distri-
bution to the United States. The initiative is composed of DEA, HSI, FBI, US
Coast Guard, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and PRPD's
Joint Forces for Rapid Action.

The Airport Investigations and Tactical Team (AirTAT) operates in the District
of Puerto Rico as an OCDEFT strategic initiative that is part of the National Air-
port Initiative. It is a multi-agency, co-located task force that includes DEA, HSI,
FBI, USPIS, CBP - Office of Field Operations, and ATF. AirTAT also works clo-
sely with the Police of Puerto Rico. AirTAT’s mission is to identify, locate, disr-
upt, dismantle, and prosecute TCOs and their operatives using the Luis Muñoz
Marín International Airport (LMMIA), the Fernando Luis Rivas Dominicci Air-
port (FLRDA), and airport peripherals as platforms to smuggle narcotics, weap-
ons, human cargo, counterfeit documents, illicit proceeds, and other contraband
through these critical airport infrastructures.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Del Valle On Bout With De La Hoya: “Expect Fireworks”


















Press Release

Knockout Publicity


Bayamon, PR (August 23, 2016) – Super bantamweight contender Luis
“Orlandito” Del Valle is not one to waste time in the squared circle.

Currently the International Boxing Federation’s #8 ranked contender,
Del Valle scored 16 of his 22 victories by knockout including nine wi-
thin the first three rounds. Known for bringing the heat to his foes from
the opening bell, Del Valle is accustom to partaking in exciting fights and
most recently dropped hard-hitting Thomas Snow twice en route to a un-
animous decision victory.

On September 17, Del Valle faces unbeaten and highly touted Diego De
La Hoya in a ten round contest. The bout opens up the Saul Alvarez-Liam
Smith pay per view telecast from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. It is al-
so renewing boxing’s oldest rivalry as Del Valle represents Puerto Rico wh-
ile De La Hoya fights out of Mexico. The nephew of boxing legend Oscar
De La Hoya, Diego’s 15-0 with 9 wins by knockout. In May, he battered
previously unbeaten Rocco Santomaruo en route to a 7th round stoppage.

Del Valle, who is seven years De La Hoya’s senior, serves as a notable
step up in class. Del Valle respects De La Hoya’s ability and believes it
will be a classic Puerto Rico vs Mexico type battle while it lasts before
his experience ultimately powers him to victory.

“The fans can expect fireworks on the 17th,” Del Valle said of his upco-
ming showdown with De La Hoya. “We’re both warriors and know that
something bigger will follow if we win in a high profile fight like this. He
 is a good young fighter that has talent but I’m battle tested. I’ve fought
former world champions and learned from my past bouts where I was ma-
tched tough. My experience will be a key for me in this fight. I can’t wait
to put on a show for boxing fans all over the world!”


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For August 23, 2016


OLYMPIANS PARADE THROUGH SJ TODAY


Photo: PR Olympic Committee



















From Caribbean Business:

"The Puerto Rican Olympic delegation will celebrate on Tuesday the end of the
2016 Río de Janeiro games with a parade through San Juan. The participating
athletes include Javier Culson, Jaime Espinal, Franklin Gómez and Mónica Puig.
The caravan is slated to begin on Baldorioty de Castro Avenue and end at the Pu-
erto Rico Coliseum. The event is expected to begin at 2 p.m. and includes a stop
at the San Jorge Children’s Hospital and then continues toward the coliseum via
Fernández Juncos Avenue..."


UP TO 270 ZIKA MICROCEPHALY CASES EXPECTED


From The San Juan Daily Star:

"U.S. health experts estimate that as many as 270 babies in Puerto Rico may be
born with the severe birth defect known as microcephaly caused by Zika infecti-
ons in their mothers during pregnancy. The estimate is the first to project the po-
tential impact of Zika on Puerto Rico, which has borne the brunt of the outbreak
in the United States. Puerto Rico had 13,186 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika,
including 1,106 pregnant women, as of Friday. Rising infection rates of the virus
in Puerto Rico prompted the U.S. government to declare a state of public health
emergency last week..."


ECONOMISTS TO DISCUSS PROMESA IMPACT


From News Is My Business:

"The Puerto Rico Economists Association wiil address the impact of the Puerto
Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and pre-
sent, through successful cases, the recipe to achieve economic revitalization dur-
ing its upcoming annual conference, the organization announced. The 33rd ann-
ual meeting will take place Aug. 26, when, under the slogan of “The New Econ-
omic Recipe: Strategies for Economic and Social Revitalization,” several panels
comprising representation from government, academia and private industries will
discuss a range of topics..."


SAN JUAN ACTIVISTS PROTEST TAX EXCEPTIONS


From Democracy Now:

"In Puerto Rico, activists disrupted a business conference in San Juan on Friday
to protest laws that give new residents and some business owners complete exc-
eptions on a slew of taxes. The activists were also protesting against the PROM-
ESA law, which creates a new financial control board to oversee the island’s fin-
ancial affairs. During the protest, activists carried banners reading "The People
Before the Debt." The protest shut down the conference’s event registration for
parts of the day..."



Monday, August 22, 2016

Three Defendants Plead Guilty In Identity Theft Tax Fraud Schemes




U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release










Defendants Gabriel Aquino-Camilo and Pedro J. Esteves-Rosa and
defendant Samer Suboh-Kased plead guilty before United States Dis-
trict Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez to twenty counts, ten counts, and
five counts, respectively, of theft of government property, announced
Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District
of Puerto Rico.

From December 2011 through May 2012, Aquino-Camilo gave Este-
ves-Rosa twenty (20) U.S. treasury checks totaling $138,912.43 that
were fraudulently obtained by filing false tax returns with the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) using stolen identities of residents of Puerto Ri-
co. Esteves-Rosa successfully deposited the checks into two business
bank accounts that he controlled. The treasury checks were endorsed
with the victims’ signatures, but each victim denied filing the tax return
and endorsing the check.

From September through October 2012, defendant Suboh-Kased also
received treasury checks that were fraudulently obtained by filing frau-
dulent tax returns with the IRS. He deposited these checks into his busi-
ness bank accounts, without the authorization of the individuals whose
names were on the checks, and then Suboh-Kased withdrew the money
in cash. Suboh-Kased received a percentage for each check he deposited
and another individual kept the remaining amount.

The cases were investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal
Investigation (IRS-CI) and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attor-
ney Nicholas W. Cannon. Esteves-Rosa and Suboh-Kased are scheduled
to be sentenced on November 29, 2016. Aquino-Camilo is scheduled to
be sentenced on December 15, 2016.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Corrupt Cop Sentenced For Illegal Search


U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release









Francisco Martínez-Mercado was sentenced to 87 months in prison and
three years of supervised release for conspiracy to deprive a person of ci-
vil rights, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attor-
ney for the District of Puerto Rico. Defendant was found guilty to the
charge on February 26, 2016.

The evidence presented at trial showed beyond a reasonable doubt that
the defendant, a sworn police officer and federal task force officer plan-
ned and executed a violation of civil rights by conducting an illegal sea-
rch and seizure of an apartment where he knew there were drugs and mo-
ney. The defendant came up with a plan, sought out the necessary perso-
nnel, including two other corrupt police officers and a marked patrol car.
Witnesses testified that they were hired by the defendant to sit in a mar-
ked patrol car outside of a condominium in Isla Verde while two thugs
broke into said apartment.

During the course of the trial, the government presented overwhelming
evidence that showed that the defendant used his knowledge and contacts
 as a police officer in order to plan and execute the illegal search and sei-
zure object of the indictment. Had the defendant not been a police officer,
he certainly would not have had access to other corrupt officers who in
turn had access to the patrol car and radio that were used on his behalf.

“The evidence showed that defendant used his law enforcement knowl-
edge to do the opposite of what he was supposed to do with the trust that
was placed in him,” said Rosa E. Rodíguez-Vélez. “The defendant abu-
sed his position of trust and used his contacts in the police to commit the
offense.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Teresa
Zapata-Valladares y Mariana Bauzá.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Puerto Rico News Digest For August 16, 2016


PUERTO RICO ZIKA CASES SEE BIG JUMP




















From The San Juan Daily Star:

"Health Secretary Ana Ríus announced Friday that for the epidemiological week
number 30 some 1,914 new cases of Zika were confirmed in the island, for a total
of 10,690 accumulated cases since the virus first arrived in Puerto Rico. The new
data includes 134 pregnant women for a total of 1,035. In addition, two more peo-
ple have been hospitalized for a total of 90 and there are three new cases of Guilla-
in-Barré syndrome for a total of 30 confirmed cases in laboratories. “We have in
our hands the necessary tools to avoid being infected with the Zika virus,” Ríus
said in a written statement. “Even if we don’t feel sick, we need to protect our-
selves..."


MURDERS IN AGUAS BUENAS & LAS PIEDRAS


As reported by El Nuevo Dia, a man between 20 and 25 years of age was murde-
red on road PR-173 in Aguas Buenas. The killing was reported at around 2:50 AM
this morning, and police found the body 15 minutes later. The man, of approxima-
tely 140 pounds, with black hair and beard, has yet to be identified. A second mur-
der was reported at approximately 5:50 AM on road PR-916 in Las Piedras. A 911
call alerted police to a bleeding person in the area. Police found the body minutes
later.


DONAHUE GETS $6.7M CONTRACT EXTENSION


From Caribbean Business:

"On the heels of what was described as a rather drawn-out meeting punctuated
by several sticking points, the Puerto Rico Electric Authority’s (Prepa) board vo-
ted to extend the contract of AlixPartners, headed by Lisa Donahue, to the tune
of $6.713 million. The contract, which was due to expire Aug. 15, will be exten-
ded through Dec. 15. “The deal is broken down with half the money for restruc-
turing-related work and the other half for operational related improvements,” said
one source with knowledge of negotiations. The restructuring work involves ma-
naging and reporting cash, working out all of the structure for the Special Purch-
ase Vehicle (SPV) and Prepa rate cases, continued implementation of creditor
deals and potential negotiations..."


MEDICAL POT INDUSTRY GROWS IN PR


From News Is My Business:

"...Already, more than two-dozen companies have applied for operational licen-
ses and others are expected to follow suit. One potential job creation opportunity
on the horizon is a high-tech system for “safe and consistent” cannabis cultivat-
ion that a U.S. firm is developing with the idea of possibly carrying out the pro-
duct assembly on the island, according to César Cordero Krüger, CEO of Grow-
blox Sciences Puerto Rico, LLC, a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Growblox Sci-
ences, Inc., which is spearheading the technology..."



Monday, August 15, 2016

Monica Puig Wins First Ever Gold Medal For PR


NPR

Bill Chappell



















Puerto Rico now has its first Olympic gold medal, courtesy of tennis star
Monica Puig, who beat Germany's Angelique Kerber in the women's sin-
gles tournament at Rio's Summer Olympics Saturday.

"I"m speechless," a smiling Puig said after her historic win. "I wanted it
so bad."

"I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this would happen," Puig ad-
ded — and she said her experience in Rio de Janeiro has been like a dream.
She's looking forward, she said, to waking up tomorrow morning and seeing
her gold medal sitting on her bedside table...[CONTINUE READING]