NPP Opposes PIP Anti Military Campaign Parents Have Until Feb. 7th To Object To Providing Data Pesquera Wants Carrion's Comité 2025 Nomination Reviewed Camacho Stops Villareal Governor Calls Misla Conviction A Disgrace To Island Banco Popular Case Under Review Pro-Navy Activists Can Remain Encamped
NPP Opposes PIP Anti Military Campaign In Public Schools
January 20, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said the information military authorities will gather in the islands public schools as part of the federal education reform, is not the same as military recruitment.
He said Education Secretary Cesar Rey should not allow the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) to campaign against military recruitment in schools.
According to the law signed on Jan. 2002 by President George W. Bush, known as No Child Left Behind Act, military authorities will have access to the name, addresses and phone numbers of 165,000 students of intermediate public schools.
"Military service in the U.S. is not obligatory and the fact that information is provided is not the same as recruitment," Pesquera said in a press release.
The NPP leader asked for equal opportunity for the party he represents to explain their point of view and not to allow an alleged anti military agenda in public schools.
"We cannot allow the PIP to confuse our youth with information aimed at damaging our relationship with the U.S.," the NPP president said.
Education Secretary Cesar Rey said that parents who oppose the access military authorities will have to their childrens information have to say so in writing to school authorities before Feb. 8
Parents Have Until February To Oppose Military In Schools
January 20, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - Parents who oppose the U.S. Army obtaining information from their children at public high schools have until Feb. 7 to put their objections in writing and turn them in to school authorities.
Education Secretary Cesar Rey made the announcement on Sunday and said he would soon reveal the protocol that would be followed to deal with the claims of anti-military groups that want to give orientations in schools.
Rey said it is the parents' right to oppose the military obtaining personal information from their children.
He also said he would send out a memo to the 150,000 high school students of the island to remind them of the deadline and of their constitutional rights.
He noted that according to Law 30, no one can come into a school facility without the principal's consent.
Pesquera Urges Reevaluating Carrion's Nomination
January 20, 2003
PONCE (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said Gov. Sila Calderon should reevaluate her decision to have banker Richard Carrion preside over the 2025 Committee, since the federal government fined Carrion's Banco Popular with $21.6 million for obstructing a criminal investigation of money laundering linked to drug trafficking.
Calderon created the organism to draft the future of Puerto Rico.
"It is the governor who named him and it is up to her to evaluate his nomination, just as it is up to Carrion himself to decide how he will continue to contribute to the island," Pesquera said in a radio interview.
Pesquera also said the Justice Department should investigate the case to make sure money laundering with drug money at financial institutions does not happen again.
Camacho Returns To Ring, Stops Villareal
January 19, 2003
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) -- Hector ``Macho'' Camacho returned from an 18-month absence to stop Ecuador's Otilio Villareal after the eighth round of a super middleweight bout Saturday night.
Camacho, a 40-year-old former three-time world champion from Puerto Rico, outpunched and wore down Villareal, who did not come out for the ninth round of the scheduled 10-round fight.
Camacho improved to 76-4-2 with his 37th knockout. The former junior lightweight and junior welterweight champion had not fought since outpointing Roberto Duran in July 2001.
Camacho set the pace in the first round, scoring with a lead right and follow-up left to Villareal's head. In the second, Camacho used his left as the lead shot and repeatedly landed punches to his opponent's head.
A plodding Villareal (15-16-1) tried to frustrate Camacho with a lead right, but Camacho outpointed him with his combinations. Camacho pinned Villareal on the ropes in the third and connected with combinations to the body.
Villareal continued to absorb shots in the middle rounds as Camacho led with straight lefts or right jabs to the head. Camacho's punches had Villareal bleeding from the nose.
Villareal was on the retreat for most of the seventh round and seemed unwilling to counter Camacho's shots. Villareal was busier in the eighth and scored a short combination early in the round. But Camacho pressed the action for most of the eighth by landing repeated lefts to the head.
Governor: Mislas Conviction A Disgrace For The Island
January 18, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Gov. Sila Calderon said Saturday that the conviction of former House Speaker Edison Misla Aldarondo for five charges of corruption "is a disgrace for the island."
She reiterated her promise to clean up the government of acts such as those attributed to the once strong leader of the New Progressive Party.
"The conviction is a disgrace for the island," the governor said after participating in an official activity in Coamo.
"My commitment is to continue cleaning up the corruption because that is what the island demands," she added.
Misla Aldarondo was found guilty Friday for five of the six charges against him in the federal court.
Jury Finds Misla Aldarondo Guilty
By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News
January 18, 2003
Following 12 hours of deliberations, the jury in the case against former House Speaker Edison Misla Aldarondo returned a guilty verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment.
The nine men and three women of the jury did not believe former Sen. Freddie Valentin's testimony regarding an alleged extortion by Misla, as to requesting $1,000 from his salary as advisor to the Speaker in manners of federal affairs and natural and environmental resources.
Therefore, a not-guilty verdict was issued as to count five of the indictment, interference with commerce by extortion.
The jury did return a guilty verdict on two counts of extortion, two counts of money laundering and one count of witness tampering.
Outside the courthouse defense attorney Laura Maldonado argued that had she been given more time toevaluate all the evidence and testimony of star witness Ivan Ramos Cubano, the jury might have issued a different ruling.
To discredit Ramos Cubano, Maldonado presented into evidence drug money accepted by Cubano from convicted dealer Eduardo Pubil.
In trial, the doctor admitted to having received money from Pubil which he invested in the sale of Telefonica Hispanoamericana. That evidence however was not admitted into evidence.
Misla Aldarondo calmly listened to the jury's verdict as he had the testimony through out the trial, and dressed in a suit as if he still were in the House of Representatives.
When the jury came into the courtroom and the defendant was asked to stand, Misla Aldarondo stumbled to the side and had to be helped by his attorney. He declined to sit down and waited for the verdict.
Following the verdict Misla Aldarondo hugged Maldonado and once he was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom, he kissed his son Yamil and his sister Migdalia.
Migdalia, her brother Domingo, and the rest of the relatives held a prayer vigil while awaiting for the ruling and cried after the ruling was issued.
Outside the courthouse, a serious and somewhat angry Yamil accused the jury of issuing a political ruling and noted that justice had not been served. He added that the ruling was the result of a prosecution by the prosecution of statehood leaders.
"This was not a victory against corruption, today corruption won by using executive power to criminalize," Misla said.
U.S. District Attorney Humberto Garcia however, believed differently, arguing the jury had spoken and they were pleased with the outcome.
Garcia added that the verdict was a message against corruption.
"The message is the same, public corruption will not be tolerated," Garcia said.
The prosecutor declined to say if the U.S. District Attorney office would ask for an upward departure.
U.S. District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Vargas said she will set a sentence date on Tuesday.
Maldonado declined to say if an appeal would be issued but said such was a resource that she recommended all convicts used.
Misla Aldarondo now awaits trial in state court on separate charges of rape. The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 27.
Misla Aldarondo faced trial for money laundering, extortion, conspiracy, and witness tampering in relation to the sale of the Manati Regional Hospital. Misla Aldarondo and Gerardo Cruz Arroyo, an aide to a former Health secretary, are accused of accepting more than $258,000 from doctors in 1997 to arrange for the sale of the public hospital.
He also deposited donations to his Notigrama bank accountwhich paid for his political radio programfrom the doctors who purchased the Alejandro Otero Hospital.
The trial against Misla Aldarondo began Nov. 8.
Taking the witness stand during the trial were former Health Secretary Carmen Feliciano, Government Development Bank President Marcos Rodriguez Emma, and the defendants former lover, Camille Rivera, among others.
Local Government To Evaluate Banco Popular's Case
January 17, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rican officials said Friday that they will oversee an internal review of Banco Popular, following its agreement to pay one of the largest civil penalties ever in a drug money-laundering case.
The announcement came a day after U.S. officials said the island's largest bank will pay $21.6 million for failing to report suspicious transactions and allowing millions in drug money to clear the system.
"We now have to assure ourselves that the bank's systems of internal control are really functioning and that they comply with what has been agreed," said Alfredo Padilla, Puerto Rico's commissioner of financial institutions.
Deposits to accounts in Banco Popular often came in paper bags or gym bags stuffed with small bills, the Justice Department and other federal agencies said.
Under an agreement, the bank admitted to violations of federal anti-money-laundering rules that require banks to notify authorities of suspicious transactions.
A U.S. law enforcement source in Washington said there are many money-laundering investigations underway in Puerto Rico. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to say how many or go into details.
Puerto Rico's Justice Department will wait for a report from Padilla to determine whether other legal action is necessary, department spokeswoman Zulma Raices said.
She indicated that it is the commissioner who is in charge dealing with this matter.
The commissioner said his office will evaluate the situation, and if he detects any violation to the local law, he would refer it to the Justice Department.
However, he said money laundering is a federal matter and his office just reports any case detected and cooperates with the federal authorities in the investigative process.
The bank, based in San Juan, has a year to pay the $21.6 million and show that it is continuing to comply with the rules. Otherwise, it could face criminal prosecution.
Between June 1995 and June 2000, several suspicious transactions were made by customers of the bank, which filed late or inaccurate reports of the questionable activities, the federal government said.
The untimely filings and errors "hindered law enforcement's ability to initiate investigations on these accounts in a timely manner, resulting in the laundering of millions of dollars of drug proceeds through these accounts," federal agencies said in a statement.
In one series of transactions, Roberto Ferrario Pozzi, who was indicted in December 1998 for alleged money laundering, deposited some $20 million in cash in a Banco Popular account, the agencies said. They said that Ferrario Pozzi and employees of Phone Home, a phone card company, often made deposits in paper bags or gym bags full of cash.
Banco Popular President Richard Carrion said bank officials cooperated fully with the investigation and noted that no bank employee had been charged with a crime.
"We believe strongly that our acceptance of the agreement is the preferred course of action - one that avoids potentially protracted litigation that could have a negative impact on the bank, our clients, our employees and the communities we serve," Carrion said in a statement.
"We have already taken corrective actions to prevent similar situations in the future," he said.
The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which will receive $20 million as a civil penalty from the total paid by the bank, said it was one of the largest such penalties it had assessed.
The agreement was announced by the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Customs Service and the Federal Reserve, which has regulatory authority over the bank.
Judge Decides Pro-Navy Activists Can Remain In Their Camp
January 17, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Superior Court Judge Carlos M. Nieves Ortiz on Thursday determined that the pro U.S. Navy camp can remain where it was established, close to another camp which was set up by anti-Navy protesters.
The judge dismissed the complaint filed by Severino Diaz of Hidroponicos Isla Nena Inc., who alleged the camp damages the sowing and marketing of their products.
Attorney Julie Soderlung said she does not rule out to challenging the decision, according to published reports.
Nieves Ortiz said he had to dismiss the complaint because Law 140, invoked by the defense is not the appropriate in this controversy.