4 guilty in 1 of Puerto Rico's biggest corruption cases

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal jury on Friday found four people guilty on all charges in one of Puerto Rico’s biggest public corruption cases in recent years. They were the last of the 10 people to be charged and convicted in the fraud scheme that generated some $2 million.

Ivonne Falcon, a former vice-president of Puerto Rico’s heavily indebted water and sewer company and Sally Lopez, a former director of the island’s Administration of Labor Development, were found guilty of charges including bribery and conspiracy to commit electronic fraud. They could get up to 80-100 years in prison.

Falcon’s sister, Marielis Falcon, and Glenn Omar Rivera, who worked in the administrative office of the island’s House of Representatives, were also found guilty.

Their attorneys said they will appeal.

Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said the investigation into government corruption continues.

The last verdicts in the case come amid a punishing economic crisis and revelations of government excesses and corruption that have angered Puerto Ricans.

At the centre of the scheme was businessman Anaudi Hernandez, a one-time campaign fundraiser for the governor’s Popular Democratic Party. He was accused of offering public officials items such as expensive meals, fountain pens and concert tickets in exchange for political favours and government contracts. He has since pleaded guilty after also being accused of using his connections with high-ranking government officials, including the brother of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, to appoint people to certain positions.

The case has dealt several blows to the U.S. territory’s ruling party. The speaker of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives recently stepped down, and one senator said she would not seek re-election during next month’s general elections.

The four people found guilty on Friday will remain free on bond until sentencing, scheduled for early February.