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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Former Puerto Rico Senator and Businessman Found Guilty of Bribery



Former Puerto Rico Senator Hector Martinez Maldonado and Juan Bravo Fernandez, the former president of one of the largest private security companies in Puerto Rico, were convicted of bribery following a four-week trial in San Juan, Puerto Rico, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Martinez Maldonado, 48, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Bravo Fernandez, 62, of San Juan, were each convicted on May 31, 2017, of federal program bribery.

According to evidence presented at trial, Martinez Maldonado was elected to the Puerto Rico Senate in 2004 and began serving a four-year term in January 2005. He was reelected in 2008. Beginning in 2005, Martinez Maldonado served as Chairman of the Puerto Rico Public Safety Committee, exercising significant control over legislation related to security and community safety. Bravo Fernandez was the president and chief executive officer of Ranger American, one of the largest private security firms in Puerto Rico.

The jury convicted the defendants for their role in a bribery scheme in which Bravo Fernandez provided Martinez Maldonado and Jorge de Castro Font, another former Puerto Rico senator, with a trip to Las Vegas to watch a championship boxing match between Winky Wright and Felix “Tito” Trinidad, a legendary Puerto Rican boxer, in exchange for the senators’ help with legislation favorable to Bravo Fernandez’s business interests.

Documents and evidence presented at trial showed that the trip to Las Vegas included first-class airfare; hotel rooms at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; $1,000 tickets to the Trinidad vs. Wright boxing match; and meals, drinks and hotel rooms in Miami for the return trip. On March 2, 2005, the day that Bravo Fernandez paid for the boxing tickets, Martinez Maldonado submitted one of the bills favorable to Bravo Fernandez for consideration by the Puerto Rico Senate. The evidence at trial also showed that the hotel reservation was made the day after Martinez Maldonado presided over a Public Safety Committee hearing for one of the bills, and that, the day after the three men returned from their trip to Las Vegas, Martinez Maldonado and de Castro Font both cast their vote in support of one of Bravo Fernandez’s bills in the Senate.

De Castro Font served in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives from 1989 to 2004, and served in the Puerto Rico Senate from 2005 to 2008. De Castro Font pleaded guilty on Jan. 21, 2009, to 20 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. He was sentenced on May 17, 2011, to 60 months in prison.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Peter Koski and Trial Attorneys Monique Abrishami and Gwendolyn Stamper of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Office.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seven Individuals Associated with Armed Robbery Conspiracy Sentenced to Prison



The last of seven individuals associated with a string of violent armed robberies in Miami-Dade County has been sentenced to over 138 years in prison.

Benjamin C. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Pete J. Forcelli, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), Daniel Junior, Interim Director, Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCR), and Rodolfo Llanes, Chief, Miami Police Department (MPD), made the announcement.

Seven defendants were charged and convicted for their roles in a violent armed robbery conspiracy that began operating in Miami-Dade County, as early as 2006.  Andrew Nelson, 24, of Miami, was the final defendant to be sentenced, after having been convicted at trial, in January of 2017, of one count of participating in a Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy, six counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and six counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence (Case No. 16-CR-20119).  On May 16, 2017, United States District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Nelson to 1,662 months in prison.

According to evidence presented at trial, starting in 2006, members of the conspiracy began committing armed robberies of civilians, businesses, a bank, and illegal enterprises, including narcotics traffickers in Miami-Dade County.  As part of the robbery conspiracy, Nelson and his co-conspirators would shoot at victims and sell the narcotics they stole from other drug dealers.  After their arrest, members of the conspiracy used jailhouse telephone calls to communicate with their conspirators about planning crimes, collecting debts, and attempting to obstruct justice by planning to attack state prosecution witnesses.

Six co-conspirators were sentenced to varying prison terms following their guilty pleas to associated criminal offenses, including unlawful firearms possession.  Steven Stafford, 18, of Miami, was sentenced to 20 years; Anthony Stuckey, 19, of Miami, was sentenced to 32 years; Jarvis Robinson, 25, of Miami, was sentenced to 32 years; Leon Pearson, 27, of Miami, was sentenced to 36 months, and Terril Kinchen, 25, of Miami, was sentenced to 35 years, in prison (Case No. 16-CR-20119).  Torrence Lawton, 19, of Miami, was charged in a separate indictment (Case No. 15-CR-20783) and plead guilty to using a firearm in furtherance of two armed robberies, which he committed with members of the conspiracy.  Lawton was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Mr. Greenberg commended the collaborative investigative efforts of the ATF Miami Field Office/MDPD Street Terror Offender Program, FBI Miami Field Office, MDPD’s Robbery Bureau, MDCR’s Security Threat Group Unit, and the MPD Robbery Unit.  These cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ignacio J. Vazquez, Jr., Brian Dobbins and Cary Aronovitz

ATF Offers Reward in Gun Store Burglary



ATF, LaVergne Police Department and the firearms industry seek the public’s help in LaVergne firearms theft

LAVERGNE, Tenn. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in conjunction with the LaVergne Police Department and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, have announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction for those responsible for the theft of firearms from Specialty Arms, a federal firearm licensee (FFL).

On May 20, 2017, Specialty Arms, 184 Old Nashville Highway, LaVergne, was burglarized and approximately 39 firearms were reported stolen to the LaVergne Police Department. ATF industry operations investigators are in the process of conducting an inventory to determine the exact number of firearms stolen.

ATF is offering the reward in the amount of up to $2,500, which will be matched by the NSSF for a total reward of up to $5,000. This reward is part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF in which NSSF matches ATF’s reward in cases involving the theft of firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers. ATF works closely with members of the firearm industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the ATF at (800) ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867) or the LaVergne Police Department (615) 793-7744. Information can also be sent to ATF via the mobile app www.reportit.com (link is external) by using the Nashville field division as the location.

ATF is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes, and regulates the firearm industry. More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov