This is the federal indictment against a former Mayaguez mayor
Today, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment against the former advisor to Mayaguez Mayor José Guillermo Rodriguez and six other people for allegedly committing cyber fraud and money laundering offenses.
Among the defendants are former judge Arnaldo Erizari, who also served as legal counsel for the city council until 2019. Federal authorities have brought charges against Steve Minger, Stephen Kirkland, Alejandro Riera Fernandez, Joseph Kirkland, Roberto Miguel Tillado and Eduardo Garcia Jimenez. According to the indictment, García-Jiménez also acted as an advisor to the Mayagüez municipality and the foundation. Mayaguez Economic Development (Midi). While Mejill Tejado was, according to the indictment, a contractor who provided financial advice to the city council.
According to the indictment, between March 2016 and June 2018, the defendants orchestrated a scheme to defraud the Mayagüez municipality and MEDI from funds owned by the city council. Likewise, the fraud arose after the defendants filed a false representation of an investment of $ 9 million with funds from the municipality and MEDI. There are four criminal charges against Irezary: one for conspiracy to commit Internet fraud, two for electronic fraud and one for money laundering.
For the scheme, the defendants would have used about 13 established companies and other ghosts to receive and transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars of Mayaguez Municipality. This money, according to the Office of the Federal Prosecutor, was earmarked for investments.
According to the accusation, a $ 9 million investment arose after between 2014 and 2016, Mayagüez municipality received a millionaire allowance to improve the City Council’s trauma center. From the allocated funds, Mayagüez received about $ 8.7 million, which was transferred to the city council. Thus, the municipality then transferred a total of $ 9 million to MEDI – an entity created to promote the municipality’s economic development and boost infrastructure projects – to make an investment, as advised by García Jimenez.
García Jimenez promised the municipality that the investment would yield significant economic returns with a return rate of over 8%. After receiving $ 9 million, García-Jiménez bought several bonds in the US Treasury at a 2% interest rate. Instead, García Jimenez – together with the other defendants – made transfers to personal accounts. The former advisor paid the municipality $ 1.8 million and assured him that it was a return on investment. However, according to the indictment, García Jimenez had withdrawn money from the initial investment of $ 9 million.
On several occasions, García-Jiménez has transferred these funds to other bank accounts in coordination with Stephen Kirkland, a financial advisor at Union Banc Investment Services (Ubis). After transferring the balance to an account at LPL Financial, García-Jiménez on several occasions tried to hide from Individual C – the financial officer of the said institution – who said that the funds were owned by the Mayagüez municipality.
After several transactions with four banks, the defendants began making withdrawals from these accounts for personal use. Out of $ 9 million, Joseph Kirkland, Stephen’s brother and president of a financial institution, transferred approximately $ 10,000 to a personal account at Heritage Oak Bank; About $ 500,000 transferred to García-Jiménez’s personal account; Transfer $ 100,000 to Stephen Kirkland and $ 1.14 million to Garcia-Jiménez’s Wells Fargo Bank account.
In 2016, García-Jiménez was supposed to transfer $ 1.8 million to a MEDI account to make the company and the municipality believe they had made a return on investment when in fact it was money obtained from the original $ 9 million.
According to the indictment, the defendants had used the money to purchase a cruise ship, jewelry, clothing, tuition payments for a school, restaurants, utilities, credit card payments, home decor, and property improvements such as construction of a complex pool and payments on mortgage.
Between April and December 2016, Irezary had also received 126,100 dollars From the mentioned investment.
On September 28, 2016, García-Jiménez asked one of his employees – individual D – to send a letter to the Mayagüez Municipal Finance Manager indicating that the $ 9 million amount of MEDI was still under investment. However, this money is no longer invested according to the indictment. In November 2017, García-Jiménez again asked the municipality to keep the investment for three to five years as it could get 18% of interest rates and generate about $ 87,300 a month.
In April 2018, García Jimenez again insisted to the municipality that $ 9 million was still intact and ready to be reinvested.