Mayor admits accepting bribes in exchange for contracts

7 December 2021

A mayor in Puerto Rico has pleaded guilty to receiving cash payments in exchange for awarding municipal contracts to a company.

Felix Delgado-Montalvo, who has resigned, was the mayor and highest-ranking government official in the municipality of Cataño.

According to court documents, Delgado-Montalvo accepted bribes, including cash payments from a particular person, whose business would benefit by being rewarded municipal contracts, including a contract worth nearly $50,000.

As part of his plea agreement, Delgado-Montalvo agreed to forfeit $105,820 as proceeds of his illegal conduct, according to the US Department of Justice.

Relatedly, a contractor from Puerto Rico, which is a US territory, has been arrested for allegedly paying bribes and kickbacks to the mayor.

Mario Villegas-Vargas, of Gurabo, who owned an asphalt and paving company in Puerto Rico, was indicted for allegedly paying kickbacks and bribes to Delgado-Montalvo in exchange for valuable municipal contracts.

According to the indictment, Villegas-Vargas paid kickbacks and bribes, beginning in or around June 2017, in exchange for Delgado-Montalvo exerting his influence on municipal officials in Cataño, resulting in Villegas-Vargas’s business receiving more than $9.9m in municipal contracts.

Delgado-Montalvo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March next year, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Villegas-Vargas is charged with conspiracy to pay bribes, bribery, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering. If convicted of all counts, Villegas-Vargas faces a maximum total penalty of 20 years in prison.

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