Two Former Puerto Rico Government Officials, BDO MP Indicted

Six people, including former Puerto Rico officials and the MP of BDO Puerto Rico, have been indicted over allegations of theft, money laundering and wire fraud, Bloomberg reported.

Among those charged is Fernando Scherrer-Caillet, MP of BDO Puerto Rico, Julia Keleher, who served as the commonwealth’s secretary of education from January 2017 until April, and Angela Avila-Marrero, the head of the commonwealth’s health insurance administration until last month. Two others were also indicted.

The “defendants engaged in a public corruption conspiracy and benefited at the expense of the Puerto Rican public and students” says Neil E. Sanchez, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General’s Southern Regional Office. Comments came at a press conference in San Juan on Wednesday morning.

Bloomberg reports that the move stems from ongoing investigations of the territory, which has been operating under bankruptcy for two years.

Last month, Governor Ricardo Rossello fired his treasury secretary, Raul Maldonado, after the official disclosed that his department was being investigated for potential corruption.

Keleher allegedly pressured her department to execute a contract with a company owned by someone she was close to. The firm, Colon & Ponce, was awarded a $43,500 contract that increased to $95,000, even though it was unqualified under the terms of the request for proposals, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Avila-Marrero is accused of steering contracts totaling $2.5 million to BDO and providing internal information to the company. BDO then subcontracted the work and paid unauthorized commissions, which inflated the cost of the contracts, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

A spokesperson for BDO at an outside public relations firm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by Bloomberg.