The Anaudi Hernandez corruption case: the trial continues
The ongoing government corruption trial involving Anaudi Hernandez Perez and other Puerto Rican officials is now entering a new phase. Over the course of the past three weeks, the prosecution presented 30 witnesses on the stand and argued its case for a conviction on the charges brought to court. The last few witnesses of the prosecution’s case provided new insight into the nature of the dealings under scrutiny. The final witness, former AT&T head of security Ángel Rijos, revealed that Hernández had bought a 16-gigabyte iPhone 5 for former Workforce Development (ADL) Administrator Sally López.
On Thursday September 15, prosecutors presented evidence showing that various accounts, including those under former Vice President of Administration of Aqueducts and Sewers Authority Ivonne Falcon Nieves, had received significant deposits, in the thousands of dollars, around the same time that Perez had been fundraising. The prosecution’s final articulation of its position, as delivered by Federal prosecutor Timothy Henwood, is that Sally López Martínez, former administrator of the Workforce Development Administration; Ivonne Falcón Nieves and Glenn Rivera Pizarro, used their positions to give unfair advantages to Perez and the companies he associated with.
Starting on September 20, the defense commence its proceedings. According to reports, the defense brought eight witnesses in total to the stand and had a shorter presentation than the prosecution. The defense for Sally Lopez, former administrator of the Workforce Development Agency, is likely to bring two witnesses for the stand. The defense for Ivonne Falcón, former president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), will present three witnesses, while the defense for Marielis Falcón, Ivonne Falcón’s sister, will call one witness. Having had their request for a mistrial denied, the defense must now present its case.
On September 27, the Puerto Rico Justice Department requested transcripts from 23 of the 30 witnesses the prosecution brought forward from Federal judge Delgado. Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda assigned two federal attorneys to attend the hearings and familiarize themselves with the evidence in order to build grounds for future state cases. Already a preliminary investigation has commenced into Popular Democratic Party Senator Maritere Gonzalez. Citing a “sworn-in document,” the Justice department is potentially pursuing a criminal case against the senator. Taking the fifth amendment to avoid self incrimination, Senator Gonzalez refused to answer a question about a $2000 donation from Perez while in court. The Economic Crimes and Comptroller Issues Division has been requesting further documentation and resources from the court in regard to many of the different witnesses who took the stands. Clearly, more legal proceedings are on the way as more is learned about the corruption scandal Perez headed.
Notably, the President of the Aqueducts and Sewers Authority, Alberto Lazaro, arrived as a potential witness for the defense. The defense will begin presenting more of its evidence soon and there are sure to be new revelations in the case as final arguments began on October 3.