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Rullan Insists There Is No Evidence To Support Rossello Pension… Forensic Science Inst. Gets $17.2m… U.S.: Padilla Sought To Blow Up Buildings… Marc & Dayanara Divorce… Salsa Soup Simmers With Anthony… Diaz: Comptroller’s Audits Influence Elections… Rivera Schatz Calls PDP Lawmakers Cowards

Rullan Insists There Is No Evidence To Support Rossello Pension

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

June 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Secretary of Health Johnny Rullan assured that his agency’s investigation into former governor Pedro Rossello’s $52,500 pension certification included five government agencies.

He revealed that none of the five agencies could provide evidence that Rossello was employed in a psychiatric hospital during the summers of 1962, 1963, and 18964.

"In none of the agencies did we find evidence to support Rossello’s claim," said Rullan in a press conference.

Among the agencies which the investigation tapped were the Department of Health, Mental Health & Anti-Addiction Services Administration (MHAASA), the San Juan Psychiatric Hospital, the Treasury Department, and UPR’s Medical Sciences Campus.

The investigation highlighted four main discrepancies: there is no evidence whatsoever to validate that Rossello worked for the San Juan Psychiatric Hospital; the certification process conducted by MHAASA was deemed irregular and suspicious because it did not follow proper channels; the post that Rossello allegedly held did not exist at the time; and the salary he allegedly received is ‘unreal.’

Rullan rejected claims that the investigation was part of a political vendetta, as claimed by Rossello and the New Progressive Party (NPP), and referred to the process as a way to evaluate the certification process and ‘validation for all of Puerto Rico’s pensioners.’

He also pointed out that 11 of the officials involved in the certification process denied in sworn statements that they were asked for evidence of Rossello work in the Psychiatric Hospital or saw any evidence that supported the claim.

"The pension certification process was irregular…there are at least 11 people who in sworn statements denied ever seeing the evidence needed for certification," added Rullan.

Nevertheless, he stopped short of saying Rossello was involved directly in the process because he lacked the evidence.

He also dismissed NPP claims that the Department of Health destroyed the evidence as a way further draw out the scandal.

Rullan directed the investigations findings to the Department of Justice, citing that the information therein would void Rossello’s pension.

The Government Employees Retirement Systems Administration sent a letter to the former governor informing him that he has 10 days to contest the recalculation of his pension benefits.

Institute Of Forensic Science Seeks To Help Solve Crime

June 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon announced on Tuesday an investment of $17.2 million in the Institute of Forensic Science, which would arm the institution with the latest in crime detection equipment.

Renovations, scheduled to begin this month, include construction of a new building for laboratories to analyze crime scene evidence. Improvements also call for an addition of a third floor to the institute, located in the vicinity of the Rio Piedras Medical Center.

"This new facilities will provide more space for the recruitment of new personnel, the installment of new equipment in the areas of DNA test and narcotics," said Calderon during an afternoon press conference.

Renovations are expected to be completed by November 2006.

A total of 344 killings, 27 more than when compared with the same time last year, have occurred so far this year.

According to Calderon 43% of the murders investigated by the Institute of Forensic Science are solved and that number is expected to be raised to 50%.

In addition with the investment in equipment and recruitment the institute plans to cut down the time in which investigations are completed from 90 days to 15.

U.S.: Suspect Sought To Blow Up Buildings


June 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member held as a terrorism suspect for two years, sought to blow up hotels and apartment buildings in the United States in addition to planning an attack with a ``dirty bomb'' radiological device, the government said Tuesday.

[Just weeks before the Supreme Court is to decide whether the Bush administration improperly declared Padilla an enemy combatant], the Justice Department, under pressure to explain its indefinite detention of a U.S. citizen as an ``enemy combatant,'' detailed Padilla's alleged al-Qaida training in Afghanistan and contacts with the most senior members of the terrorist network, his travel back into the United States and preparations to rent apartments and set off explosives.

Deputy Attorney General James Comey told a news conference that when Padilla stepped off a plane in Chicago in May 2002, he was a highly trained and fully equipped ``soldier of our enemy'' who had accepted his al-Qaida assignment to kill hundreds of innocent people in apartment buildings.

``We have decided to release this information to help people understand why we are doing what we are doing in the war on terror and to help people understand the nature of the threat we face,'' he said.

Comey asserted that if Padilla had been handled by the more conventional criminal justice system, he could have stayed silent and ``would likely have ended up a free man.''

[The unusual declassification of the Padilla documents is not expected to have any direct impact on his case pending before the Supreme Court, which many legal analysts say the Bush administration is in danger of losing.

Defense lawyers for Mr. Padilla challenged the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Mr. Padilla if the evidence against him was as strong as officials had suggested.

"If we believe someone is bad, there's a new form of justice: we put them in a black hole," said Donna Newman, one of Mr. Padilla's lawyers.]

Judge Approves Marc Anthony And Dayanara Divorce

By Ramon Almanzar of Associated Press

June 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - A judge approved a divorce Tuesday for Puerto Rican salsa singer Marc Anthony and former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres.

The authorization for divorce will now go through other officials, including the secretary of state for external relations and then the U.S. Embassy, at which point it should be finalized.

Judge Maritza Capellan had reserved judgment Thursday after hearing the arguments of Ana Ramos, a lawyer for Anthony. Court documents revealed her decision on Tuesday.

"It's fitting to accept this divorce by mutual consent," the judge said in her ruling.

Reached in New York, a spokesman for Anthony, Gerald McKelvey, declined to comment.

Anthony was present during the hearing last week on the motion filed May 25 by both him and Torres, a Puerto Rican crowned Miss Universe in 1993.

The Dominican Republic offers quick divorces to foreigners as long as one of the spouses is present.

Singer Diana Ross and her husband of 14 years, Arne Naess, were divorced in the Dominican Republic, as were boxer Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens, as well as pop singer Mariah Carey and Sony record executive Tommy Mottola.

Anthony and Torres married in Las Vegas in 2000. They split up in July 2002, but never legally separated. They renewed their wedding vows at a lavish ceremony at a cathedral in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in December 2002. They have two young children, Cristian and Ryan.

The judge's divorce ruling says Anthony is to pay Torres US$3,500 a month in alimony, plus child support of US$6,500 a month for each child.

It also says Torres is to keep homes in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, while Anthony will keep another home just outside San Juan, plus others in Long Island, New York, and New York's Catskill Mountains.

According to the document, Anthony also agreed to turn over cars - a BMW and Lincoln Navigator - to Torres within a month.

Salsa Soup Simmers With Anthony

Michael Fleming

May 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Reed Business Information Limited. All rights reserved. 

Daily Variety

Singer-actor Marc Anthony is set to play the title role in "El Cantante," an independently financed biopic of salsa singer Hector Lavoe.

Leon Ichaso ("Pinero") wrote the script and will direct the film in late summer. Nuyorican Prods. partners Jennifer Lopez and Simon Fields will produce with David Maldonado, who was Lavoe's tour manager.

Lavoe was one of the biggest Spanish-language singers in the 1970s, but personal tragedy and a heroin addiction left him penniless and dying from complications from AIDS.

"To the Hispanic community, he was as popular as Frank Sinatra, but he had the self-destructive tendencies of Sid Vicious," said Fields, who became Lopez's partner in Nuyorican after they worked together on the upcoming "Shall We Dance?"

Anthony, last seen in the Tony Scott-directed "Man on Fire," was just beginning his music career when he met Lavoe. Anthony will sing Lavoe's songs, and a soundtrack album is in the offing.

The $10 million film has been funded by private sources, said Fields, adding it hadn't been determined if distribution rights will be sold before the film begins production in Puerto Rico and New York.

Lopez, who will not appear in the film, has been developing "El Cantante" with Anthony and Ichaso for two years.

Diaz: Comptroller’s Audits Influence Electoral Votes

By Jose Fernandez Colon of Associated Press

May 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE – Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña said on Monday that he believes the audits performed by his office have a tendency to influence the way people vote in the general elections of the island.

It is for this reason that he said he awaits the publication of the reports made of La Fortaleza, legislators, and mayors.

"It is very important for citizens to follow up on the Comptroller’s Office reports before choosing the leaders of the island," Diaz Saldaña said.

This summer, the Comptroller’s Office is expected to disclose the results of the audits of legislators’ offices.

He said that by June 30 his office should have published around 200 audits. Diaz Saldaña urged citizens to visit the Comptroller’s Office’s web page or headquarters for information on all audits.

Diaz Saldaña said most government fiscal irregularities and violations are found in the Executive and Legislative branches.

He said the handling of municipal finances has significantly improved over the past few years. He said he believes that mayors have become more aware of the importance of keeping a healthy administration.

Rivera Schatz: PDP Lawmakers Are Cowards

By WOW Staff

May 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

In his usual defensive tone of voice, New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators are mediocre cowards for canceling the legislative hearings to investigate the legitimacy of former governor Pedro Rossello’s pension.

"They fled," said Rivera Schatz adding that the lawmakers also "got scared" because they realized that they have no evidence to sustain the investigation.

"We have the evidence and we will show it to the Retirement System Administration," said Rivera Schatz declining once again to make those documents public.

Last week, Special Committee Chairman Joel Rosario announced that the Legislature would investigate the granting of Rossello’s retirement pension and had scheduled the hearing for June 2.

The NPP criticized the investigation, but the delegation appointed Rivera Schatz as the investigator.

Rivera Schatz also argued that the PDP legislators had cancelled the hearing because they got scared of him and urged them not to cancel the investigation.

"The people of Puerto Rico know the populares are scared and that they would have been ridiculed on live TV. We are prepared to begin the hearing right now, they are the ones who now flee," said Rivera Schatz.

Rosario, however, argued that the investigation has been postponed until Rossello complies with Retirement System Administrator Marisol Marchand’s request to show why his pension should not be reduced.

But NPP minority leader Anibal Vega Borges said that whenever an investigation is postponed, it is rarely rescheduled.

"They will say that the hearing will be postponed but in reality what that means is that they got scared and that the investigation will never be carried out," Vega Borges said.

Rossello receives maximum pension benefits, given to public workers with more than 30 years of service, but he has yet to present documentation to prove that he is entitled to those benefits.

Rossello’s pension has already been investigated by the Health Department following allegations that the former governor had not worked long enough to receive that pension. The former governor has insisted that his pension is legitimate, but Health Secretary Johnny Rullan has said there is no evidence to prove that claim.

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