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A prominent Democrat mayor in Puerto Rico pleaded guilty this week to accepting bribes in exchange for millions of dollars in municipal contracts.
Mayor Felix Delgado, who represented the north coastal town of Catano, was involved in a kickback scheme centered around contracts worth $10 million that was handed out to an asphalt company.
Delgado resigned soon after he made a deal with federal officials. He will be sentenced in March 2022 and faces up to five years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said officials have confiscated five luxury watches and more than $100,000 in cash as part of the case.
“The scheme…was not very complicated,” he said, adding that the former mayor met with the company owner in several places in Cataño to receive the watches and cash in a scheme that ran from 2017 to 2021.
“Felix Delgado-Montalvo, 40, was the mayor of and highest-ranking government official in the municipality of Cataño. Delgado-Montalvo resigned his position as mayor on Tuesday,” the Department of Justice stated.
“According to court documents, Delgado-Montalvo unjustly enriched himself by accepting bribes, including cash payments from a particular person, whose business, Company A, would then benefit by being rewarded municipal contracts, including a contract worth nearly $50,000. As part of his plea agreement, Delgado-Montalvo agreed to forfeit $105,820 as proceeds of his illegal conduct,” the DOJ added.
The DOJ said in a press release:
Relatedly, Mario Villegas-Vargas, 42, of Gurabo, who owned an asphalt and paving company in Puerto Rico, was indicted for allegedly paying kickbacks and bribes to Delgado-Montalvo in exchange for valuable municipal contracts.
According to the indictment, beginning in or around June 2017, Villegas-Vargas paid kickbacks and bribes in exchange for Delgado-Montalvo exerting his influence on municipal officials in Cataño, resulting in Villegas-Vargas’s business receiving over $9.9 million in municipal contracts.
Delgado-Montalvo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Chief Judge Raúl M. Arias-Marxuach for the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Villegas-Vargas is charged with conspiracy to pay bribes, bribery, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. If convicted of all counts, Villegas-Vargas faces a maximum total penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Gran jurado federal sesionó hoy. Según fuentes de @ElNuevoDia están en la mirilla otros cinco alcaldes y exalcaldes además de Félix Delgado, incluyendo uno que es hoy asesor de Pedro Pierluisi en Fortaleza y otro que ahora dirige la ACAA https://t.co/LpIQk5udJQ
— Benjamín Torres Gotay 🇵🇷 (@TorresGotay) December 1, 2021
Félix Delgado, mayor of Cataño, Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery & receive kickbacks. He awarded 50 contracts to an asphalt company & in return got 5 luxury watches & more than $100,000 cash, from 2017 to 2021, prosecutors says. https://t.co/HBRXsDKNNV
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 2, 2021