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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lawyer Guilty of Concealing Fugitive

U.S. Attorney's Office

San Juan

Press Release

Attorney Found Guilty Of Concealing A Fugitive From Arrest, Obstruction 
Of Justice And Tampering With Judicial Proceedings

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico– Today, after a 20-day trial and two hours of deli-
berations before U.S. District Court Senior Judge Daniel R. Domínguez, sta-
te criminal defense attorney Lemuel Velilla-Reyes was found guilty of one
count of concealing a fugitive from arrest, and two counts of mail fraud, one
count of endeavoring to obstruct, influence and impede the due administrati-
on of justice, and one count of tampering with official proceedings, announc-
ed U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vé-
lez. The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Public Corruption Squad.

Velilla-Reyes was indicted on September 16, 2014, for harboring and conc-
ealing 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. He
was later indicted, along with Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rodríguez on July 9, 2015,
on charges of mail fraud, 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 repre-
sented federal fugitive Wilfredo Rodríguez- Rodríguez, aka “Fredo”, aka
“Cape”, aka “Capellán”, under the false name of “Felix Otero-Torres” on lo-
cal drug and weapon charges in state court. At that time, Wilfredo Rodrígu-
ez-Rodríguez had an outstanding arrest warrant since July 14, 2010, in fede-
ral 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 for par-
ticipating 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 Muni-
cipality. 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 docu-

Attorney Velilla-Reyes arrived at the police station to provide legal repres-
entation for Rodríguez-Rodríguez under the false name he had provided. Ve-
lilla-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 con-
tinue 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 re-
turn 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 confiscated and the bond company
had to pay $24,000.

“Our efforts to eradicate corruption in Puerto Rico’s judicial system will incl-
ude investigations and prosecutions such as this one. The actions committed
by this attorney and his effort to conceal a federal fugitive from arrest through
illegal conduct, undermined the public’s trust in the judicial system, which is
a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. A-
ttorney 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, en-
dangered the public by setting a fugitive free,” said Douglas Leff, Special Ag-
ent in Charge of the FBI. “The FBI thanks its partners at the US Attorney's Of-
fice for their diligence in obtaining this conviction.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Y. Hernández, Senior Litigation Counsel José
Ruiz Santiago and Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández were in charge of the prose-
cution of the case. The sentencing was scheduled for February 9, 2017; and the
defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

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