by Richard Lawless
If I were to tell you that Puerto Rico is so corrupt that not even the FBI or
U.S. Attorney on the island could be trusted to protect it citizens, you wo-
uld find it hard to believe.
But that is exactly what is happening in Puerto Rico. With the FBI and U.S.
Attorney turning a blind eye to government corruption in Puerto Rico and
group of citizens had to file a private RICO lawsuit to protect themselves.
On February 24, 2015 a law suit was filed using the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act. (http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-inves-
tigations/cases/PREPA) This is a very difficult law to proceed under. Ma-
ny courts are reluctant to consider RICO charges for fear the statute will be
abused. While our professional law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico
stood by and did nothing for a number of years, these citizens took the law
into their own hands.
The lawsuit claims that government officials at the island's largest utility,
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, stole over one billion dollars
in public money over 10 years and committed one of the largest municipal
bond frauds in the history of our country. This scheme has been an open
secret on the island for many years.
The government perpetrators live in multi-million dollar homes in plain
sight of the FBI's and U.S. Attorney's employees. Homes they could ne-
ver afford on their government salaries.
As the law suit progresses, a number of firms have moved to settle with
the plaintiffs by offering specifics on how the scheme was perpetrated
or by offering confidential multi-million dollars settlements in an effort
to keep their participation quiet (Law360/HagenBermen). While the De-
partment of Justice does nothing!
There are only two reasons the FBI and U.S. Attorney have failed to act:
1) The island of Puerto Rico is small and the amount of stolen money is
large. Some of that money made it to the FBI and U.S. Attorney offices.
2) The officials at the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices decided that their
careers were more important than the oath they took. They are turning a
blind eye to all of this. It is clear that the Obama Administration wants
bankruptcy for Puerto Rico and a crime of this magnitude would not help
the administration's cause.
Either way, under a new administration the Department of Justice will
have some explaining to do!
Richard Lawless is CEO of Commercial Solar Power, Inc. in Temecula, CA. The opinions expressed
in the preceding commentary are exclusively his own.