New-progressive representative María Milagros Charbonier could face up to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if she is found guilty of each count of honest services electronic fraud and for the charge of obstruction of justice presented by a federal Grand Jury against him.
During a press conference, the chief of federal prosecutors in Puerto Rico, Stephen Muldrow, also indicated that the legislator faces a maximum sentence of five years for the conspiracy charges and until 1st years for the charges of bribery, theft and illegal commissions of federal funds.
The indictment contains 13 criminal charges for conspiracy, money laundering, theft, illegal commissions, electronic fraud of honest services, and obstruction of justice. As part of the fraud scheme, Charbonier would have received about $ 100,000 from early 2017 to July 2020.
Charbonier was arrested this morning – along with her husband Orlando Montes and their son Orlando Montes-Charbonier – for allegedly participating in a fraud scheme in which he consisted of inflating the salary of the legislative employee, Frances Acevedo. According to the indictment, the conspiracy scheme to commit bribery and obtain kickbacks – also known as kickbacks – focused on Charbonier inflated Acevedo’s salary – from about $ 800 bi-weekly to $ 2,900 bi-weekly – and in return, the legislator received portions of $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 from each paycheck from her employee. Said portions would be received by Charbonier, her husband, and their son.
“The purposes of the conspiracy were that the four defendants knowingly enriched themselves by embezzling, stealing, obtaining without authority and converting for his use the inflated portion of Acevedo’s salary to hide his corrupt scheme from the Commonwealth, its citizens and the federal government, “Muldrow pointed out.
On occasions, according to the accusatory statement, Acevedo transferred the money to Charbonier through of ATH Móvil or coordinated the delivery of said sum through third parties or placed them in predetermined places such as the legislator’s wallet or in his car. According to the accusation statement, Acevedo would also keep a portion of the inflated salary as part of the agreement with the legislator.
“The corrupt scheme of the defendants was not very complicated,” said Muldrow about the way in which Charbonier and Acevedo carried out money transfers with each other.
The legislator, in turn, faces one count of theft, one count of bribery and obtaining illegal commissions, six counts of honest services electronic fraud, two counts of laundering of money, and one count of obstruction of justice.
“As of July 2020, Charbonier would have received at least $ 100,000 in kickbacks and kickbacks as part of this scheme,” Muldrow commented. “Charbonier, instigated by her husband and son, corruptly accepted things of value from her assistant Acevedo as a reward for inflating Acevedo’s government salary,” he added.
On the charge of obstruction of justice, the accusatory statement points out that Charbonier would have destroyed evidence on the same day that agents of the Bureau of Federal Investigations raided his residence. “Specifically, Charbonier would have erased almost all the call log, almost all his WhatsApp messages and almost all his iMessages,” reads the accusatory statement.
The charge of money laundering, for its part, would have been committed through of the transfers made by her son, Orlando Montes Charbonier, to a bank account controlled by the legislator and her husband, Orlando.
He rules out mentioning whether more arrests will come
For his part, Muldrow refused to comment on whether more is expected arrests of legislators or other people related to this scheme.
“What I am going to say is that we do not comment on future processes. But clearly in any case we continue to investigate whether there is more information or more crimes that have been committed,” he said. Muldrow to questions from the press.