The federal prosecutor’s office sought a two-year prison sentence against the accountant after detailing his attempts to sabotage the investigation and his lies. Joseph Fuentes FernandezA personal friend of the Governor Peter Pierluzzi.
Fuentes Fernandez, head of a major super PAC supporting the chief executive’s campaign, He pleaded guilty last May The scheme falsified, concealed or concealed the identity of donors who donated $495,000 to the Save Puerto Rico campaign against Pierluzzi’s rivals in the 2020 election campaign.
“The defendant finally admitted his involvement in this brazen false reporting scheme and agreed to cooperate with the government. But he compounded his original crime by secretly informing a subject of a government investigation.The federal prosecutor’s office pointed out in a motion.
“The lies and deception continued: Even when investigators confronted defendant with substantial evidence of these disclosures (to the other defendant), defendant lied to investigators about the extent of his disclosures. Secretly deleted relevant text messages on your phone“, he added.
Before a sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 26, Fuentes Fernandez’s defense requested a sentence of supervised release.
That movement points out that Fuentes Fernández (because of his genuine, decades-long friendship with the (then) candidate) took these actions with the sincere hope that Mr. Pierluisi-Urrutia would lead Puerto Rico out of economic and social chaos. I found myself.
“His behavior here was motivated by his deep personal friendship with someone he met 40 years ago when they were both college students in New Orleans,” he added.
Fuentes Fernández requested a non-custodial sentence because it was not a project that benefited him personally.
However, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office responded with a motion that painted a more serious picture of Fuentes Fernández’s actions.
The Public Ministry explained that the defendant agreed to cooperate with investigators on another subject, but warned him of the investigation.
According to the motion, Fuentes Fernandez began cooperating with agents Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, its summary in English) in May 2021.
However, on May 26, 2021 he contacted “Individual 2” without notifying federal agents. He recounted that they met at a restaurant in San Juan, where “accused informed Individual 2 that he was cooperating with the Public Ministry” and asked them to record conversations with “several individuals.”
Unknown to investigators, they continued to work with Fuentes Fernández, who continued to provide them with information about Private 2.
“Essentially, the defendant intended to fully cooperate with the government investigation while attempting to completely disrupt it,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Not knowing what was going on, FBI agents arranged for Fuentes Fernandez to record his conversation with Individual 2 at a dinner party at a restaurant in San Juan on December 13, 2021.
The prosecution explained that they knew at the time that the defendant communicated with Individual 2 via text messages through the Apple iMessage application. But they didn’t know that Fuentes Fernández had simultaneously contacted the subject via WhatsApp and asked to meet him a few hours before dinner at another nearby restaurant.
At that meeting, Fuentes Fernández slipped a sheet of paper to “Private 2″ to inform him that he would “register at dinner”.
“The defendant then told Individual-2 that they should walk to the restaurant separately, which would avoid informing the investigators they had met earlier,” the prosecution motion added.
By February of this year, investigators already suspected Fuentes Fernández of obstructing the investigation by letting others know about the investigation.
During that month, investigators met with Fuentes Fernández “on several occasions” to discuss the alleged “liqueos,” in one of which the defendant admitted to having committed the crime in December. From your cell phone with Personal 2.
However, the defendant later pleaded guilty to informing Person 2 of the investigation in May 2021, and the Public Ministry discovered that he had deleted “selected” texts.
The federal prosecutor’s office said in December 2021 that “the defendant’s statements to investigators that he disclosed only to individual 2 were false and damaged the Public Ministry’s investigation into the campaign finance scheme.”
Considering all of this behavior, along with the plan he pleaded guilty to, the prosecution asked federal Judge Joseph LaBlante to impose a minimum sentence of two years in prison.
According to prosecutors, Fuentes Fernández’s pattern of lies dates back to the beginning of the scheme he was accused of and his disclosures to authorities regarding his participation.
When interviewed, he indicated that he had nothing to do with the creation of the nonprofit that was used to donate money to the Save Puerto Rico PAC.
Although he told probation officers that he had “only discussed the idea” with others about those companies, Fuentes Fernández noted in a text message at his criminal trial: ‘I told them to open (systems 1 and 2 more than one company making contributions, which would ‘avoid the appearance of being connected’).
Additionally, “He specifically commanded Individual 2” means: “Please open the accounts today so that the more than 300,000 I requested will be deposited.”
It follows from the motion of the prosecution that the plan was organized by Fuentes Fernández and “others” to facilitate “external” funding to support Pierluzzi Urrutia in the spring of 2020, when the “primary election season” began.
“They quickly determined that if donors’ names were not identified with their donations, donors would provide more funds to support ‘Public Officer-1,'” the motion states, referring to Pierluzzi Urrutia, who was identified in the defendant’s motion to defend.
The program states that “funds donated by those individuals and organizations will flow through two non-profit organizations (which they founded) and then go to Save Puerto Rico.”
“Because the funds raised through this program would ‘pass through’ the operating nonprofits, the defendant and Salvemos (Puerto Rico) schemed to report the two nonprofits as donors, concealing the true donors,” the federal prosecutor pointed out. Office.
To Save Puerto Rico, both parties – the government and the defense – agreed to pay an immediate $150,000 fine, and three years subject to an unannounced review of their books by a probation officer or government representative. .
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