Puerto Rico Senator, Businessman Convicted of Bribery
Senator Héctor Martínez, a Puerto Rico senator from the island’s New Progressive Party, was found guilty of one count of bribery in U.S. Federal Court on Monday. After a three-week trial the jury found that Sen. Martínez accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas in May 2005 to see a boxing match featuring Puerto Rican boxing champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad. The businessman who funded the trip, Juan Bravo Fernández was also convicted of bribery, conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
Bravo was the former CEO and president of Ranger American, Puerto Rico’s largest security company that services large shopping malls and provides armored car services. The jury found that Bravo paid for the Vegas trip shortly after Sen. Martínez submitted a bill that would require private security companies to obtain a private detective license. While Ranger American owned the license at the time, most of its competitors did not. The bill was not approved, however.
Senate President Tomás Rivera Schatz has not asked Sen. Martínez to resign from the senate, but Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno has demanded his immediate resignation. Hailing from the San Juan suburb of Carolina, Martínez was first elected senator in 2004 and re-elected in 2008 where he served as president of the Commission of Public Safety and Judiciary Affairs, before stepping down last year. He has been an advocate for Puerto Rican statehood.
According to federal prosecutors, the trip paid for by Bravo included first-class airfare, hotel rooms at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, $1,000 tickets to the boxing match, meals, drinks, and entertainment. Each bribery count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 7 and Sen. Martínez’s lawyer has said he will file an appeal by March 14.
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