Former Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez (NPP, R) has been arrested for bribery allegations involving her 2020 campaign. Early August 4, 2022, Vázquez was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at her home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The United States Department of Justice has said that the former governor was not the only person accused in this case. Vazquez is alleged to have been in stragem with multiple businessmen and consultants, who she accepted bribes from. Julio Herrera Velutini, a banker originally from Venezuela, was the donor of the bribes Vazquez accepted. Herrera desired Puerto Rico’s regulator to be replaced; thus, he suggested $300,000 to politicians working on the governor’s campaign. Mark Rossini, a former agent for the FBI and Herrera’s consultant, was also found involved in facilitating the bribe.
Allegedly, Vázquez went on to receive $300,000 in benefit of her campaign. Conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and honest services wire fraud are all charges that Vázquez will face in court—others who helped the ex-governor during her 2020 campaign are also charged with similar. After a short hearing on August 4, 2022, Wanda Vazquez was released on bond.
The former Puerto Rican governor could spend up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Vázquez has faced scandal before, specifically during her time as Puerto Rican Governor. She was investigated for misdirecting assets during Hurricane Maria, and she also faced charges in 2018 when she intervened in a court case involving her daughter.
Pedro Pierluisi (NPP, D)—the current Puerto Rican Governor—and Wanda Vázquez are both members of the same local party. Vázquez endorsed Pierluisi in 2020 after losing in the primary to him. In fact, according to the filing by prosecutors in Vazquez’ case, Pierluisi’s campaign was also approached by the same individuals who allegedly bribed Vazquez, but to no avail. Speaking on the charges, Pierluisi said “We all need to stand united against this social evil, and under my administration, there is zero tolerance for corruption.”