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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How Stupid Is The FBI? You Must Read This!


Commentary 

Richard Lawless









Unfortunately, my company along with tens of thousands of other individuals and corporations was caught off-guard by Puerto Rico’s financial collapse. To make sure that it doesn’t happen to us again, my company launched an investigation into the causes of this tragedy so we wouldn’t become a victim a second time, somewhere else.

Part of the findings uncovered information indicating the Puerto Rico Government theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds each year.  I reported this to the San Juan FBI office and after many months and little cooperation, they determined the activities did not meet criminal standards and would better be handled as a personal civil case.

Shortly after that I received a call from a CIA Agent that said they have been tracking the massive wire transfers out of Puerto Rico for almost a decade. The Agent then went on to say that they have notified the FBI repeatedly and the FBI failed to act on it.  The agent also said that in tape recorded phone conversations it was clear that the San Juan FBI and U.S. District Attorney Offices were participating in this massive theft and their family members were receiving payoffs; Further explaining the lack of prosecution for so many years.  A short time after that, British Intelligence suggested they were aware of much of same.

Two newspaper editors were able to confirm the tip from the CIA and British Intelligence.

On April 6, 2016, the Caribbean News Now Agency printed the article “Personal conflicts obstruct FBI investigation into Puerto Rico fraud” and the New York Observer printed a similar article on 6 27-16. As of today, it is my understanding that the money continues to flow out of Puerto Rico and find its way back to critical DOJ employees.

Reporting this to the San Juan FBI and U.S. Attorney would be silly, since they were the DOJ employees allegedly accepting the payoffs. I forwarded this information to the Washington Headquarters of the FBI hoping they would do something.

After not hearing anything for almost a year, I filed a Freedom of Information Request.  I received the results today. The Washington FBI referred my complaint back to the San Juan FBI so they could investigate themselves!

As of today, it is my understanding that the money continues to flow out of Puerto Rico and find its way back to critical DOJ employees.

Puerto Rico Bond Fraud that set a new standard for Congressional Corruption? 60 Sec Commercial Summarizing some of the crimes

Press Conference recapping testimony to the SEC/FBI and Congressional Oversight Committee – It is mind bending


Richard Lawless is a former senior banker who has specialized in evaluating and granting debt for over 25 years. He has a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of San Diego and Bachelor’s Degree from Pepperdine University. He sits on several Corporate Boards and actively writes for several finance publications. The opinions expressed in the preceding commetary are solely his and do not represent those of The Puerto Rico Monitor.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Puerto Rico News Digest For July 24, 2017


JARDINES DE COUNTRY KILL

Carolina neighborhood reports murder for 2nd weekend in a row



















A man believed to be in his early 20s, who is so far unidentified, was shot to death at around 4:30 on Sunday morning in the Jardines de Country Club neighborhood of Carolina. The victim parked his car on 30th Street, between a basketball court and baseball field in the suburban neighborhood, and was apparently shot at several times as he sat in the vehicle. It is unknown whether he was pursued there before being killed. After shooting, the perpetrators presumably drove away in their own vehicle, while the victim left his bullet-riddled car and stumbled for a few feet before falling to the ground, where he died. A 911 call alerted police to the sound of gunfire, and they found the lifeless body soon afterward. This is the second murder reported in Jardines de Country Club inside of a week, and was one of eight violent deaths registered over the weekend across Puerto Rico.


TREASURY NET INCOME UP 1.7% FOR LAST FISCAL YEAR

From The San Juan Daily Star:

"Puerto Rico Treasury Secretary Raúl Maldonado Gautier reported that the net income to the General Fund from the newly concluded fiscal year 2016-17 (July-June) amounted to $9.334 billion, which represents $159.6 million, or 1.7 percent  more than the previous fiscal year 2015-16..."


ROSSELLO SIGNS PATIENTS' RIGHTS LAW 

From Caribbean Business:

"...Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Sunday enacted Senate Bill 27, giving patients more say before health insurers and providing greater power to the Patients Advocate Office (OPP by its Spanish initials) when defending those who are  not covered by the government’s medical plan, Mi Salud..."


MORE PR DOCTORS GOING BANKRUPT 

From News Is My Business:

"During the first six months of the year, 17 medical doctors filed for bankruptcy protection, reporting more than $23.5 million in combined debt to the court, a report by research firm Boletín de Puerto Rico confirmed..."


ROSSELLO TRIES TO PUT PR IN CONGRESSIONAL AGENDA

From The Washington Examiner:

"Puerto Rico is throwing a wrench into the mainland's politics. The Caribbean island's government held a referendum on June 11 to gauge public support in what was the territory's fifth-ever plebiscite on statehood, and the vast majority  of voters said yes..."



Friday, July 21, 2017

Puerto Rico Events For This Weekend





















Friday, July 21

Fajardo Patron Saint Festival

@ Plaza de Recreo, Fajardo

6 PM - 12 AM

This eastern coastal municipality holds its annual patron saint festivities from Wednesday to Sunday. Food vendors, carnival rides, boxing card, live music and floats.

Free admission


Gallery Nights

@ Plaza De Recreo Rey Fernando II, Carolina

6 PM - 11 PM

Enjoy art, live music, salsa lessons and the opportunity to taste local gastronomy at the plaza in downtown Carolina.

Free admission


Melao Melao Beach Festival

@ Puerto Nuevo Public Beach, Vega Baja

7 PM - 12 AM

Food vendors, live music and sporting events in a beach party setting. Runs from Friday to Sunday.

Free admission



Saturday, July 22

Loíza Patron Saint Festival

6 PM - 12AM

@ Medianía, Loíza

Loíza probably has the most unique patron saint festivities in Puerto Rico, and they stretch from July 21 to July 30, taking place at different spots throughout town each day. Loíza's festivities are known for their many processions, African influence and distinctive "vejigante" masks.

Free admission


Vieques Summer Festival & Carnaval

@ Vieques Town Square

7 PM - 12 AM

The offshore municipality's patron saint festivities include live music, food stands, games of chance, sporting competitions, a marathon and bouncehouses. Runs from Thursday to Sunday, with a "carnaval" on the last evening.

Free admission


Bayamón Museum of Art Guided Tour

@ Ramón Luis Rivera Avenue, Bayamón

10 AM - 4:30 PM

45 minute guided tour of the permanent and temporary collections of the Bayamón Museum of Art. Call 787-269-4433 to register.

Free admission


Sunday, July 23

Playa Summer Tour 2017

@ Puerto Nuevo Public Beach, Vega Baja

11 AM - 5 PM

Radio stations Mega 106.9 and La Nueva 94 host this touring beach festival which is held at different PR beaches  through the summer. Games, contests, music will be on offer.

Free admission


World Salsa Congress / Street Welcome Fest

@ Plaza Del Mercado, Santurce, San Juan

6 PM - ???

The "biggest event in the world" for salsa dancers opens its 20th installment beggining on Sunday and running until July 29th. Sunday features a welcome party at the restaurant and bar-lined Plaza Del Mercado with live music and DJs.

No admission cost listed



The Puerto Rico Monitor cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of the  above listings. They are based on  the best information available at the time of writing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Attorney Sentenced To Prison For Concealing A Fugitive


Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attorney Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Concealing A Fugitive From Arrest, Obstruction Of Justice And Tampering With Judicial Proceedings

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– Today, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Daniel R. Domínguez sentenced state criminal defense attorney Lemuel Velilla-Reyes to 18 months of imprisonment, one year of supervised release and a $20,000 fine for concealing a fugitive from arrest, endeavoring to obstruct, influence and impede the due administration of justice, and tampering with official proceedings, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Public Corruption Squad.

Velilla-Reyes was found guilty on October 12, 2016, after a 20-day jury trial. He was originally indicted on September 16, 2014, on charges of harboring and concealing from detection a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued under the provisions of a law of the United States on a charge of felony. On July 9, 2015, a second indictment was returned against Velilla-Reyes and Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rodríguez, on charges of endeavoring to obstruct, influence, and impede the due administration of justice, and tampering with official proceedings.
The facts proven at trial showed that on July 14, 2011, Velilla-Reyes represented federal fugitive Wilfredo Rodríguez- Rodríguez, aka “Fredo,” aka “Cape,” aka “Capellán,” under the false name of “Felix Otero-Torres” on local drug and weapon charges in state court. At that time, Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rodríguez had an outstanding arrest warrant since July 14, 2010, in federal case U.S. v. José Colón-de Jesus, et. al. Crim. No. 10-251 (JAF), where he was listed as the fifth individual in the 110-defendant indictment. He was charged with participating as a leader in a drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute controlled substances at the Virgilio Dávila, Las Gardenias, Brisas de Bayamón, and Falin Torrech housing projects, and other areas within the Bayamón Municipality. Velilla-Reyes was the attorney for many of the members of the drug trafficking organization which Rodríguez-Rodríguez was a part of, and had legally represented him in a prior criminal state case in 2006.
In the early morning hours of July 14, 2011, Police of Puerto Rico officers arrested Rodríguez-Rodríguez in Toa Baja while they were executing state arrest warrants. Upon his arrest, he provided the false name of Felix Otero-Torres, and did not provide or have on his person any identification documents.
Attorney Velilla-Reyes arrived at the police station to provide legal representation for Rodríguez-Rodríguez under the false name he had provided. Velilla-Reyes stood by while the charges against his client where filed under the false name. He then appeared in court during the probable cause proceedings and falsely represented to the court that his client Felix Otero-Torres could not recall his social security number or his full address. Velilla-Reyes requested that bail be set without electronic monitoring and told the court he would continue to represent his client throughout all the proceedings. He also vouched for his client’s fulfillment of pre-trial release conditions and his appearance in court. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, who was affirmatively identified during the days that followed, did not show up at the police station for booking and did not return to any court proceeding. Velilla-Reyes continued as the attorney of record, but failed to appear in any of the subsequent court hearings. As a consequence of the above actions, the bond was ordered forfeited and the bond company had to pay $24,000.
“The actions committed by this attorney and his efforts to conceal a federal fugitive from arrest through illegal conduct, undermined the public’s trust in the judicial system. The public’s trust in the integrity of the criminal justice system and those who work within that system is paramount to preserve law and order in our society. We will continue to work with local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies to strengthen the public’s trust in our justice system,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
“As the evidence in this case demonstrated, this defendant abused his status as a trusted officer of the court to corrupt the judicial system, and in doing so, endangered the public by setting a fugitive free,” said Douglas Leff, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI. “The FBI thanks its partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office for their diligence in obtaining this conviction.”
Senior Litigation Counsel José Ruiz Santiago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Y. Hernández, and Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández were in charge of the prosecution of the case.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Visiting Culebra and Vieques, Puerto Rico

Feature

The islands of Vieques and Culebra lie off the east coast of Puerto Rico, and have some of the Caribbean's best beaches. Here are some of the basics you need to know before visiting these two islands.
Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Casa Culebra.
Casa Culebra.
Source: TripAdvisor.Com
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Culebra

The island-municipality of Culebra lies about 17 miles east of the main island of Puerto Rico. It is sparsely inhabited, and hosts some of the best beaches on Puerto Rican territory, which is saying a lot. Flamenco Beach is the best-known one. Culebra was for a long time home to a US military bombing range, until its closing in 1975. An old, rusting army tank still sits on the beach and provides for good photo opportunities.
There are a few ways to get to Culebra. The simplest and cheapest one is to take the ferry from Fajardo. The terminal is located on Road 987, and the ferries run every day, although the cargo ferries run only during the workweek. The fare is $2.25 per person each way. If the ferry is not your style, you can rent a private boat to take you there. Or, if you are the kind of person that places a lot of faith in small, single-engine planes, you can take a flight to Culebra from Diego Jimenez Torres Airport in Fajardo, or from José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba, for little over $100 round-trip. I've gone to Culebra this way, and it was very fast, but I found the ferry more relaxing (and much cheaper, although also much slower).
Once at the Culebra ferry terminal or airport, you will probably see vans and/or taxis that can take you to Flamenco Beach or anywhere else on the island you need to go. Make sure you agree on the fare before hopping in, and be aware that many of these taxis will be shared. You can arrange with your driver to come pick you up at a particular time. If you're planning on going back to Fajardo the same day, make sure you're back at the ferry terminal by 4:30PM, if not earlier, as the last ferry leaves at 5:00PM. If you want to stay, there are several small hotels and inns on the island (a listing can be found at:http://www.islaculebra.com/puerto-rico/hotels-villas.html)
Culebra has been a pretty bare-bones place for a long time, but tourism infrastructure has been slowly developing over the last several years. It is one of the most charming, beautiful and picturesque places in Puerto Rico, and I highly recommend a visit.
Map data ©2015 Google
Map
Satellite
A beach in Vieques.
A beach in Vieques.
Source: Vieques Weekly
W Retreat & Spa in Vieques.
W Retreat & Spa in Vieques.

Vieques

Vieques is an island-municipality about 8 miles east of Puerto Rico's "big island". It bears the nickname "isla nena" or "daughter island", a reference to its size in relation to Puerto Rico. While Vieques was a US Navy bombing range for many decades, military activities ceased in 2003 after many years of heated protest both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Since then, tourist facilities in Vieques have been greatly improving, although the island still retains its sleepy charm.
Vieques offers several attractions, besides its many pristine beaches, such as Esperanza Beach and Playa Caracas. You can visit the Fortin Conde de Mirasol, a Spanish-built fort from the 19th century which now serves as a museum. There are also two historical lighthouses, Faro Punta Mulas and Faro de Puerto Ferro. The main attraction in Vieques these days, though, is its bioluminiscent bay. Like similar bays in La Parguera and Fajardo, the water here is dramatically lit up by a multitude of glowing microorganisms, which only glow brighter when the water is agitated. The bay in Vieques (often referred to as "Mosquito Bay") is alleged to be the brightest one in Puerto Rico. Several companies offer tours, mainly by kayak. Some of these are Abe's Snorkeling (www.abessnorkeling.com) and Island Adventures (www.biobay.com). Make sure you book a trip when there isn't a full moon.
Vieques is still not nearly as urbanized as much of the rest of Puerto Rico, and seeing wild horses and chickens is not uncommon. American fast food outlets seem to be non-existent (which is great, in my opinion) and things generally move at a slower pace than in urban PR. If you're in the area in July, you can go check out Vieques' Patron Saint festivities, which are a real hoot. Make sure you put your drinking shoes on for that one, though.
Malecon Esperanza.
Malecon Esperanza.
Source: Vieques Weekly
You can get to Vieques by taking a ferry from the terminal on Road 987 in Fajardo, or by plane from the airports in San Juan, Ceiba or Isla Grande. You can also fly between Vieques and the US Virgin Islands, which are not far away. The ferry is about $4 round-trip per person, and runs daily. A cargo ferry is available during the workweek if you want to bring your car (I don't recommend it). For transportation, you can either rent a car in Vieques, or you can take a taxi or van at the ferry terminal or airport, or engage a taxi driver for the day. You can have a driver drop you off at the beach, for example, and arrange to be picked up by a certain time. The last ferry leaves Vieques at 6:00 PM, so be there an hour before that unless you're planning to spend the night. The best-known resort is the very pricey (and amazing) W Retreat and Spa, but less expensive accommodations, such as the Sea Gate Hotel, are available. For more information on Vieques tourism, visit:http://www.viequestourism.com/.
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For more information on visiting Puerto Rico, try The Real Deal Guide To Puerto Rico.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Puerto Rico News Digest For July 17, 2017


WEEKEND BLOODBATH

12 DEAD BETWEEN FRIDAY AND SUNDAY ACROSS PUERTO RICO
















Twelve people across Puerto Rico died in suspected homicides between Friday morning and Sunday morning, according to police. Three separate murders were registered in Río Piedras, Humacao and the Hato Rey area of San Juan on Friday. The Humacao victim has been identified as 27-year-old Luis O. Fontanez  López. On Saturday, one murder each took place in Toa Alta and in the Puerto Nuevo section of San Juan. In the Toa Alta case, three masked men in a white car gunned down Ángel Joel Vázquez Hernández age 34, killing him. The victim's 13-year-old daughter was also injured in the brazen attack. Later that day, a decomposing body was found in a field in Caguas, near Road 175.

On Sunday, two young men were executed just past midnight near the Liborio Ortiz housing project in Aibonito, while another man was shot to death less than two hours later at a basketball court in the Piñones sector of  the town of Loíza. The victim was identified as César Orlando González Correa, age 32. He had just left a niece's birthday party at the court; several individuals followed him out to the facility's parking lot and shot him with various firearms, including an assault rifle, over 70 times. Another murder took place at 3:28 that same morning in Ponce, where the bullet-riddled body of  Walter Sánchez de Jesús was found inside a car.

Daylight provided no respite from the parade of horrors, as a woman's body was found in a field close to 10:00 AM on the grounds of Maria Auxiliadora Church in Santurce's gritty Cantera neighborhood. The victim's body showed signs of head trauma, and a bloodied cinderblock was found nearby. Scarcely half an hour after this gruesome discovery, a bullet-riddled body was found inside a white Acura SUV in the Jardines de Country Club neighborhood of Carolina. The victim was identified as Eduardo Luis Mercedes Carrión, a 27-year-old man from San Juan. The murder tally for the year now totals 361, one more than at this time last year.


ECONOMIC CRISIS HITS MAYAGÜEZ ZOO



"The economic crisis afflicting Puerto Rico for the last decade has also taken a toll on the island’s only zoo, with critics saying it is sorely understaffed and struggling to care for its animals on a limited budget..."


EPA PROPOSES CLEANUP FOR UTUADO SUPERFUND SITE



"The U.S. Environmental Protection is proposing a cleanup plan to address sources of chemical contamination at the Papelera Puertorriqueña Inc. Superfund site, a paper and plastic goods manufacturer in Utuado, the agency confirmed..."


BOARD APPROVES LIQUIDATION OF GDB


From Reuters:

"Puerto Rico's financial oversight board late on Friday approved a plan to wind down the island's Government Development Bank (GDB), bringing the defunct fiscal agent a step closer to settling more than $5 billion in debt..."


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Puerto Rico News Digest For July 15, 2017

WHO'S THE REAL ANIMAL?

Crazed dog-killer murders pooch in middle of road

File photo


















Toa Alta resident David Mercedes, age 20, sits in jail after chasing a neighbor's pitbull which had entered his property out onto the street and brutally killing the dog. The pooch succumbed to injuries caused by a heavy wooden object which the disturbed perpetrator used to beat it over the head several times. Responding Toa Alta police were shocked at the scene when they arrived to investigate. The violent dog-hater remains at the Bayamón jail after having failed to pay a $10,000 bond.


AIBONITO, NOT SO BONITO...MAN SHOT TO DEATH 


Joseph Rosario Rivera, age 29, fell victim to a drive-by shooting near the entrance to the Las Flores neighborhood of Aibonito, on Road PR-722, on Thursday night. At about 10:35 that night, mulitple individuals with firearms shot at Rivera from inside the car, striking him several times. A good samaritan drove the victim to a local hospital, where he died. The bloody incident has been tallied as the 352nd murder in Puerto Rico for 2017, seven less than at this time last year.


PIP LAWMAKERS: STOP DUMPING TOXIC COAL ASH!

From The San Juan Daily Star:

"Legislators Juan Dalmau Ramírez and Denis Márquez Lebrón of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) announced  Thursday the introduction of steps in the island Senate and House to stop the dumping of toxic coal ash and remedy the ineffectiveness of Law 40 of 2017..."


SENATE PRESIDENT TO FOCUS ON MUNICIPALITIES

From Caribbean Business:

"Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz has defined the course of the upcoming legislative session by pointing out that his priority, as of August, will be to address the fiscal and structural challenges of Puerto Rico’s  78 municipalities..."


RICH PEOPLE RUSH IN TO PICK PUERTO RICO'S BONES

From Bloomberg:

"Distressed-mortgage investors are descending on troubled Puerto Rico. There are big names among them: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Perella Weinberg Partners and TPG Capital. What’s luring them is the opportunity to scoop up home loans and foreclosed properties for pennies on the dollar..."