Judge Throws Out Select Charges Against Gov. Acevedo
Monday a U.S. judge tossed out the majority the federal corruption charges against Puerto Rico's governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, who is facing a federal trial for alleged campaign finance violations. The judge threw out 15 of the 24 charges against the governor, and all but two were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they can't be filed again regardless of what future evidence may come to light.
Defense attorney Thomas Green described the ruling as a serious blow to case and credibility of prosecutors, saying, "There's no common thread that weaves all the charges togetherů it certainly cuts out a big part of the case [against the governor]."
Nedy Carrillo, the spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Juan, did not return repeated calls as of the time of press. All they have said so far, through an official statement, is that "prosecutors are considering their options."
The federal indictment that came out last March accused Acevedo of conspiring to violate federal campaign laws, defraud the Internal Revenue Service, and give false testimony to the FBI agents that were looking in to the case.
The governor continues to deny any wrong doing, and surely feels a modicum of vindication at this latest ruling.
Most of the charges that were dismissed with prejudice pertained to allegations of a planned system to obtain as much as $7 million in public financing for his 2004 election campaign, though it is unclear as to how this plot may have been illegal. Judge Paul Barbadoro determined that, while the claim may have had some merit under different circumstances, the fraud charges were based on a mistaken, out-dated or erroneous interpretation of Puerto Rican election law.
Judge Barbadoro failed to dismiss charges related to Acevedo's earlier campaigns for US national congress as well as those pertaining to a potential conspiracy to hide some of the donations he received from the IRS, though it's unclear if he would have faced any tax consequence for full disclosure. Some close to the case are speculating that it was merely a matter of accidental oversight, and that the continuation of the lawsuit constitutes some political vendetta against the governor, though these claims have yet to be substantiated.
Acevedo was defeated following his first term as governor, and will be leaving his post in January. The governor also unavailable for comment.