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BREAKING U.S NEWS: Former Governor of Puerto Rico Arrested in Bribery Scheme

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#AceBreakingNews – A former governor of Puerto Rico was arrested today on bribery charges related to the financing of her 2020 campaign.

Relatedly, a political consultant for the former governor and the president of the international bank have also pleaded guilty to participating in the bribery scheme.

“The alleged bribery scheme rose to the highest levels of the Puerto Rican government, threatening public trust in our electoral processes and institutions of governance,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable those who wrongly believe there is one rule of law for the powerful and another for the powerless.  No one is above the rule of law.”

According to the indictment, from December 2019 through June 2020, then-Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vazquez Garced, 62, of San Juan, allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme with various individuals, including Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, Frances Diaz, Mark Rossini, and John Blakeman to finance Vazquez Garced’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign.

“The criminal actions of the defendants in this case strike a blow to the heart of our democracy and further erode the confidence of our citizens in their institutions of governance,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico. “Our resolve to bring to justice those entrusted by the public to serve with integrity and who violate that trust remains steadfast. Equally steadfast is our resolve to prosecute those who seek to use their wealth and power to enrich themselves at the expense of honest government. I commend the dedication and hard work of the law enforcement personnel and prosecutors in this case, as well as those individuals willing to come forward and cooperate.”

Herrera Velutini, 50, a dual Venezuelan-Italian citizen residing in London, United Kingdom, owned an international bank operating in San Juan. Diaz, 50, of Puerto Rico was the CEO and President of the international bank owned by Herrera Velutini. Rossini, 60, of Madrid, Spain was a former FBI Special Agent who provided consulting services to Herrera Velutini. Blakeman, 53, of Puerto Rico, is a political consultant who worked on Vazquez Garced’s 2020 campaign.

“Public corruption manifests in many different ways,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph González of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “Those who engage in this illegal conduct often believe they are above the law or fool themselves into believing this is a victimless crime and thus are not doing anything wrong. Our message is and has been clear. Public corruption erodes the people’s trust in our institutions and fuels civil unrest. As a top priority for the FBI, wherever allegations of public corruption arise, we will investigate. No one is above the law and the victim of this crime, the People, deserve better.”

According to the indictment, beginning in 2019, Herrera Velutini’s bank was the subject of an examination by Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF), a regulatory agency that oversees financial institutions operating in Puerto Rico. Through intermediaries, Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly promised to provide funding to support Vazquez Garced’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign in exchange for Vazquez Garced terminating the Commissioner of OCIF and appointing a new Commissioner of Herrera Velutini’s choosing. The indictment alleges that Vazquez Garced accepted the offer of a bribe and, in February 2020, took official action to demand the resignation of OCIF Commissioner A and, in May 2020, to appoint OCIF Commissioner B – a former consultant for the international bank owned by Herrera Velutini – who had been personally selected by Herrera Velutini. In return, Herrera Velutini and Rossini allegedly paid more than $300,000 to political consultants in support of Vazquez Garced’s campaign.

The indictment further alleges that following Vazquez Garced’s primary election loss in August 2020, Herrera Velutini sought to bribe her successor, Public Official A, by offering funding in support of Public Official A’s campaign in exchange for Public Official A ending OCIF’s audit of Herrera Velutini’s bank on terms favorable to Herrera Velutini. According to the indictment, between April 2021 and August 2021, Herrera Velutini allegedly used intermediaries to convey his offer of a bribe to a witness who held himself out as a representative of Public Official A, but who was in fact acting at the direction of the FBI. As noted in the indictment, the witness was acting at the direction of the FBI during this timeframe and not actually serving as an intermediary of, or acting on behalf of, Public Official A. In August 2021, Herrera Velutini allegedly directed a $25,000 payment to a political action committee associated with Public Official A, with the understanding and expectation that Public Official A would resolve OCIF’s audit of Herrera Velutini’s bank in the manner requested by Herrera Velutini.

Vazquez Garced, Herrera Velutini, and Rossini are each charged with conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and honest services wire fraud. Vazquez Garced is scheduled to make her initial court appearance today in federal court in the District of Puerto Rico. If convicted on all counts, they each face 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.

Relatedly, the department also announced the guilty pleas of two individuals in connection with the schemes to bribe Vazquez Garced and Public Official A.

According to court documents, in March, Frances Diaz pleaded guilty to conspiring with Herrera Velutini and others to bribe Public Official A. Diaz was, until February 2022, the CEO and President of the international bank owned by Herrera Velutini. In March, John Blakeman pleaded guilty to conspiring with Herrera Velutini and Rossini to bribe Vazquez Garced, and with Herrera Velutini to bribe Public Official A.

Both Diaz and Blakeman face up to five years in prison. Their sentencing hearings have not yet been scheduled. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office made the announcement. 

The FBI’s San Juan Field Office is investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Ryan R. Crosswell, Erica O. Waymack, and Nicholas W. Cannon of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico are prosecuting the case. Members of the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section also provided assistance with the investigation, including Trial Attorneys Margaret Leigh Kessler and D. Zachary Adams, and Bank Integrity Unit Acting Chief Molly Moeser.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.05: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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Ace Daily News

FEATURED U.S DOJ REPORT: Four Guatemalan Nationals Indicted & Arrested as Part of Takedown of Deadly Human Smuggling Network Based in Guatemala

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#AceNewsDesk – On Tuesday, extensive coordination and cooperation efforts between United States and Guatemalan law enforcement authorities culminated in the Guatemalan National Civil Police (PNC) conducting a significant enforcement operation to disrupt and dismantle a transnational human smuggling organization.

On August 2, Guatemalan law enforcement executed 26 search warrants in Huehuetenango, El Quiché, Totonicapán, Alta and Baja Verapaz and arrested 19 individuals including the four U.S. fugitives. As a result of the search warrants, law enforcement recovered 10 high valued motor vehicles, firearms, and cash.

This operation included the arrest of four alleged human smugglers who have been indicted in the United States.

Felipe Diego Alonzo, aka “Siete”, 38; Nesly Norberto Martinez Gomez, aka “Canche”, 37; Lopez Mateo Mateo, aka “Bud Light”, 42; and Juan Gutierrez Castro, aka “Andres”, 45; were arrested in Guatemala at the request of the United States pursuant to charges previously filed in the Western District of Texas (WDTX) and unsealed yesterday. The defendants allegedly conspired with other smugglers to facilitate the travel of large numbers of migrants from Guatemala through Mexico, and ultimately, to the United States, charging the migrants and their families approximately $10,000 to 12,000 USD for the perilous journey. In addition to prolific smuggling of migrants to the United States, the human smugglers targeted in this operation are alleged to be responsible for the death of a young indigenous Guatemalan woman who died in Texas in April 2021. Guatemalan authorities arrested Diego Alonzo, Martinez Gomez, Mateo Mateo, and Gutierrez Castro pursuant to requests for their extradition by the United States.

The victim’s family paid the defendants approximately $10,000 for the journey to the United States. According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators guided her for several days through the desert to Odessa, Texas where she ultimately perished. Upon learning of her death, the defendants and their co-conspirators quickly worked to get rid of the body and discarded it on the side of a country road in Crane County, Texas. The defendants and their co-conspirators then arranged for payment to the victim’s family.

“Joint Task Force Alpha was created to investigate and prosecute the international networks responsible for dangerous and prolific human smuggling activities that exploit and victimize migrants,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These indictments demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to holding accountable criminal organizations that prey upon vulnerable people for profit. JTF Alpha’s dedicated personnel, along with our international law enforcement partners, are working tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle these harmful smuggling and trafficking networks.”

“These recent arrests are the culmination of over a year’s efforts of international coordination and investigation into this extensive human smuggling operation,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “This specific criminal organization has smuggled a large number of migrants from Guatemala, which included a young woman who died while being smuggled, and whose body was later callously dumped by the smugglers in Crane County, Texas. Along with our partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is committed to delivering justice for her and to holding all the offenders accountable for their crimes, including those members of the criminal organization who remain in Guatemala.”

“HSI is deeply immersed in the global fight against human smuggling, and that absolutely includes our International Operations within Central and South America,” said Steve Francis, acting executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations. “Combating this horrific, transnational crime is one of our top priorities – our special agents are actively engaged with law enforcement partners and task forces around the globe working to dismantle criminal networks that treat human life like a commodity. We will continue to root out those engaged in this crime and bring alleged perpetrators, such as these four, to justice.”

“Transnational criminal organizations continue to recklessly endanger the lives of individuals they smuggle for their own financial gain with no regard for human life,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller. “CBP supports Joint Task Force Alpha through information sharing and analysis from its frontline personnel and CBP’s National Targeting Center. That coordination is essential in identifying transnational criminal organizations and bringing human smugglers to justice.”

The indictments against Diego Alonzo, Martinez Gomez, Mateo Mateo and Gutierrez Castro and assistance provided by U.S. authorities to Guatemala law enforcement were coordinated under Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). JTFA was created by the Attorney General in June 2021 in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to strengthen the Department’s overall efforts to combat these crimes based on the rise in prolific and dangerous smuggling emanating from Central America and impacting our border communities. JTFA’s goal is to disrupt and dismantle those human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, with a focus on networks that endanger, abuse or exploit migrants, present national security risks, or engage in other types of transnational organized crime.

Since its creation, JTFA has successfully increased coordination and collaboration between the Justice Department, DHS, and other interagency law enforcement participants, and with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico; targeted those organizations who have the most impact on the United States, and coordinated significant smuggling indictments and extradition efforts in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. To date, JTFA’s work with its partners has resulted in criminal charges and over a hundred domestic and international arrests, including against leaders, organizers and significant facilitators of human smuggling activities; several dozen convictions; significant jail sentences imposed; and substantial asset forfeiture. JTFA is comprised of detailees from southwest border U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the District of Arizona, and the Southern District of California, and dedicated support for the program is also provided by numerous components of the Criminal Division that are part of JTFA – led by the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), and supported by the Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS), the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO), the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs (OIA), and the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS). JTFA is made possible by substantial law enforcement investment from DHS, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other partners.

HSI Midland led U.S. investigative efforts, working in concert with HSI Guatemala, and the HSI Human Smuggling Unit in Washington, D.C. HSI received substantial assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE)’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center/Operation Sentinel; U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Odessa and Midland Police Departments; the Texas Department of Public Safety; and the Ector County, Midland County, and Crane County Sherriff’s Offices.  HRSP, OIA, and OPDAT provided significant assistance in this matter. The Department of Justice thanks Guatemalan law enforcement, who were instrumental in furthering this investigation.

The case is being handled by JTFA Deputy Director James Hepburn of HRSP, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adrian Gallegos and Jose Luis Acosta of the WDTX and JTFA, and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Fedock of WDTX, with assistance from HRSP Historian/Latin America Specialist Joanna Crandall.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.05: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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U.S DOJ COURT REPORT: Current and Former Louisville, Kentucky Police Officers Charged with Federal Crimes Related to Death of Breonna Taylor

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#AceNewsDesk – Charges Include Federal Civil Rights Offenses, Unlawful Conspiracies, Obstruction Offenses, and Use of Excessive Force

A federal grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, returned two indictments that were unsealed today, and the Department of Justice filed a third charging document today, in connection with an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was shot and killed in her Louisville home on March 13, 2020, by police officers executing a search warrant.

“The Justice Department has charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to Breonna Taylor’s death,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Among other things, the federal charges announced today allege that members of LMPD’s Place-Based Investigations Unit falsified the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant of Ms. Taylor’s home, that this act violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. The Justice Department is committed to defending and protecting the civil rights of every person in this country.  That was this Department’s founding purpose, and it remains our urgent mission.”

“On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual, but tragically she did not,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Since the founding of our nation, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution has guaranteed that all people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police. These indictments reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system and to protecting the constitutional rights of every American.”

The first indictment charges former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Detective Joshua Jaynes, 40, and current LMPD Sergeant Kyle Meany, 35, with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses for their roles in preparing and approving a false search warrant affidavit that resulted in Taylor’s death. The second indictment charges former LMPD Detective Brett Hankison, 46, with civil rights offenses for firing his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door. The third charging document — an information filed by the Department of Justice — charges LMPD Detective Kelly Goodlett with conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the search warrant for Taylor’s home and to cover up their actions afterward.

The first indictment — charging Jaynes and Meany in connection with the allegedly false warrant — contains four counts. Count One charges that Jaynes and Meany, while acting in their official capacities as officers, willfully deprived Taylor of her constitutional rights by drafting and approving a false affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Taylor’s home. The indictment alleges that Jaynes and Meany knew that the affidavit contained false and misleading statements, omitted material facts, relied on stale information, and was not supported by probable cause.  The indictment also alleges that Jaynes and Meany knew that the execution of the search warrant would be carried out by armed LMPD officers, and could create a dangerous situation both for those officers and for anyone who happened to be in Taylor’s home. According to the charges, the officers tasked with executing the warrant were not involved in drafting the warrant affidavit and were not aware that it was false. This count alleges that the offense resulted in Taylor’s death.

Count Two charges Jaynes with conspiracy, for agreeing with another detective to cover up the false warrant affidavit after Taylor’s death by drafting a false investigative letter and making false statements to criminal investigators. Count Three charges Jaynes with falsifying a report with the intent to impede a criminal investigation into Taylor’s death. Count Four charges Meany with making a false statement to federal investigators. 

The second indictment —against Hankison — includes two civil rights charges alleging that Hankison willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force, while acting in his official capacity as an officer, when he fired his service weapon into Taylor’s apartment through a covered window and covered glass door. Count One charges him with depriving Taylor and a person staying with Taylor in her apartment of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a bedroom window that was covered with blinds and a blackout curtain. Count Two charges Hankison with depriving three of Taylor’s neighbors of their constitutional rights by firing shots through a sliding glass door that was covered with blinds and a curtain; the indictment alleges that several of Hankison’s bullets traveled through the wall of Taylor’s home and into the apartment unit occupied by her neighbors. Both counts allege that Hankison used a dangerous weapon, and that his conduct involved an attempt to kill.

The information charging Goodlett with conspiracy contains one count. It charges Goodlett with conspiring with Jaynes to falsify the warrant affidavit for Taylor’s home, and file a false report to cover up the false affidavit.

All of the civil rights charges involve alleged violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, which makes it a crime for an official acting under color of law — meaning an official who is using or abusing authority given to that person by the government — to willfully violate a person’s constitutional rights. A violation of this statute carries a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment where the violation results in death or involves an attempt to kill.  The obstruction counts charged in the indictments carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years; and the conspiracy counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of five years, as does the false-statements charge. Actual sentences, in case of conviction, are determined by a judge.

The charges announced today are separate from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s pattern or practice investigation into Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department, which Attorney General Garland announced on April 26, 2021. The charges announced today are criminal against individual officers, while the ongoing pattern or practice investigation is a civil investigation that is examining allegations of systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law by LMPD and Louisville Metro. The civil pattern or practice investigation is being handled independently from the criminal case by a different team of career staff.

The charges announced today are also separate from the charges previously filed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky against Hankison related to the shooting at Taylor’s home. The federal charges allege violations of the U.S. Constitution, rather than of state law. The federal charges also allege excessive use of force with respect to Taylor and a person staying in her apartment; violations not included in the Commonwealth’s case.

These federal cases were investigated by the FBI Louisville Field Office. Trial Attorneys Michael J. Songer and Anna Gotfryd of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the cases with Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Dembo of  the Eastern District of Kentucky.

An indictment or an information is merely a formal allegation of criminal conduct.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.05: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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BREAKING U.S ICE/ERO Harlingen Report: Removal of Salvadoran fugitive wanted for sexual assault of minor in his own country

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#AceBreakingNews – HARLINGEN, Texas – Deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Harlingen office, with assistance from ERO El Salvador and its Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) taskforce, removed an unlawfully present Salvadoran national wanted in his home country for sexual assault of a minor.

Michael Alberto Benitez-Castro, 19, was removed July 29 via ICE Air Operations, arriving at the Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Salvador, El Salvador, where he was turned over to authorities without incident.

“Individuals who commit crimes in their home countries will not find refuge in the United States”, said Denice Seemiller, acting field office director for ERO Harlingen. “Our officers remain steadfast in keeping our communities safe and removing wanted fugitives.”

Benitez-Castro was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol on May 6 near Hidalgo, and served him with a notice to appear and an order of expedited removal due to being an immigrant without an immigration visa.

On May 12, Benitez-Castro entered ICE custody and was designated a public safety threat due to the open warrant issued for his arrest Jan. 13 from the Juzgado de Instruccion in El Salvador for sexual assault of a minor.

On July 7, an immigration judge ordered Benitez-Castro removed from the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Aug.05: 2022:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com