Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carried out at least 24 audio recordings during the investigation of the case against former Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced and two other co-defendants.
This follows from a motion presented last night by the Public Ministry to the presiding judge of the Federal Court in Puerto RicoRaul Arias Marxuach.
The purpose of the motion was to brief the judge on what has happened since the three defendants appeared for their initial hearings following indictment by a federal grand jury last month.
The prosecution noted that it has provided initial discovery discovery to all three defendants, “which consists primarily of a copy of the FBI investigative file and contains approximately 16 gigabytes of data and 24 audio recordings”.
He added that “the Public Ministry will produce additional entries to the FBI investigative file that occurred after July 28, 2022.”
These recordings would be added to the fact that the indictment stated that the State’s evidence includes text messages and emails intercepted by federal authorities.
“Herrera Velutini, Rossini, Vázquez, and their co-conspirators secretly communicated with each other directly, through intermediaries, and through text messages, email, and Internet-based messaging applications, and during in-person meetings, to discuss aspects of the agreement. to pay bribes to Vázquez Garced,” alleges the indictment issued by the federal grand jury.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor of the Public Integrity Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, Nicholas Canon, advanced in the motion that in the next 14 days they will deliver additional materials in the test discovery.
He noted that evidence will include transcripts of testimony offered by witnesses who are not law enforcement officers who were paraded before the federal grand jury.
In addition, he stressed that he will deliver “the plea agreements” of potential witnesses in this case.
In addition to Vázquez Garced, the owner of Bancrédito, Julio Herrera Velutiniand his former adviser, Mark Rossiniwho was also an FBI agent.
All three face 20 years in prison on charges that include conspiracy, bribery and fraud.
In his motion yesterday, Cannon pointed out that the Public Ministry “intends to produce” for the defense of the accused “copies of the investigative files of the FBI in two parallel investigations.” The motion did not specify whether these are cases that have already been aired publicly.
So far, it is known that others involved in the case are the collaborator and collector of the Vázquez Garced campaign, John Blakeman, and Frances Díaz, who was president of Bancrédito.
On August 4, the head of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Puerto Rico, Stephen Muldrow, detailed that Blakeman and Díaz pleaded guilty to participating in the bribery scheme to finance the electoral campaign of Vázquez Garced in 2020.
According to the indictment that was made public this morning, between December 2019 and August 2021, Blakeman “knowingly and deliberately conspired and agreed” with several figures -including Diaz- “to corruptly give things of value to one or more officials of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico”.
Due to the amount of material in the discovery of evidence delivered and that remains to be produced, the prosecutor indicated in yesterday’s motion that the parties agree that no hearings be held for at least 70 days, so that the defense have time to review the evidence.
He emphasized that the defense agrees with the deadline, which will include suspending the time count related to his right to a speedy trial during that period.
On the other hand, the prosecution informed the federal judge that it will file a separate motion under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA).
According to the United States Department of Justice, CIPA is applied as a “precaution against the unauthorized disclosure of classified information during the case.” According to the agency, it is not supposed to “add or detract from the defendant’s substantive rights or the government’s discovery obligations.”
“Rather, the procedure for making these determinations is different in that it balances the right of a criminal defendant with the right of the sovereign (State) to know in advance of a potential threat of criminal prosecution to its national security,” it adds. the CIPA description.
However, the prosecution advised the judge that the defendants’ defense reserves the right to challenge any proceedings under CIPA in this case.
According to the indictment of the Federal Grand Jury, the three conspired for Vázquez Garced to receive contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from the banker, with the help of Rossini, in exchange for the then official removing George Joyner from the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF), in order to put an end to the audit that had detected suspicious transactions in Herrera Velutini’s bank accounts.
“Through intermediaries, Herrera Velutini and Rossini promised to finance Vázquez Garced’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign, in exchange for Vázquez Garced firing the OCIF commissioner and appointing a new commissioner, who would be chosen by Herrera Velutini,” he stated. Muldrow last month.