Written by Staff Writer by Greg Botelho, CNN
The mayor of Puerto Rico has pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
Rafael Santiago, who held office in the capital of San Juan, had earlier agreed to a plea deal with federal authorities. He pleaded guilty on Monday in Manhattan federal court, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office.
It said Santiago had accepted money to help owners of two for-profit real estate companies secure government contracts.
The fraud and racketeering charges against him were filed in March, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Santiago, 72, also received payments in exchange for his official actions, prosecutors said. The officials who committed the acts in question include two commissioners of the Housing Authority of Puerto Rico, who received $60,000 and $27,000 in cash over a period of two years.
Santiago could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and at least $1 million in fines and restitution.
He faces the maximum penalty and fines for receiving kickbacks of up to $2.8 million.
“Thanks to cooperation from two current commissioners of the Puerto Rico Housing Authority and the initial cooperation of another current and former commissioner, the honest and dedicated effort of the U.S. government to fight corruption in Puerto Rico has saved lives and supported victims of abuse and human trafficking,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The conviction of Mayor Santiago is a victory for those good public servants who work to protect the interests of Puerto Rico,” Berman added.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, Secret Service and the Puerto Rico Housing Authority.