11 July 2019
The FBI arrested six people in a sweeping corruption probe. It was alleged that they steered federal funds to unqualified, politically connected contractors.
Those arrested are:
Julia Keleher, (picture left) former education secretary.
Ángela Ávila-Marrero, (picture right) former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head;
Fernando Scherrer-Caillet, a businessman;
Alberto Velázquez-Piñol, a businessman;
Mayra Ponce-Mendoza and Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza who are sisters and education contractors;
The arrests come just a month after Congress approved a disaster-aid bill for the island over the objections of President Trump. Trump said Puerto Rico’s officials are incompetent or corrupt. Trump resisted sending aid to the island following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, arguing that it would be squandered by corrupt bureaucrats.
Federal prosecutors said that those arrested steered government contracts to unqualified, friendly outfits in order to benefit and enrich themselves through fraud and the theft of government funds, according to an indictment unsealed in US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico Wednesday.
The six are accused of diverting $15.5 million in federal funding to unqualified contractors between 2017 and 2019 — with $2.5 million passing through the insurance administration and the rest spent by the education department.
Alberto Velázquez-Piñol secured federal contracts and paid for lobbying using federal money.
New York Post reported.