Puerto Rico’s Special Prosecutor finds more possible severe crimes by Telegram chat members Sánchez and Miranda

While Puerto Rico’s Justice Department recommended investigating lobbyist and lawyer Elías Sánchez Sifonte for only two possible crimes, the Independent Special Prosecutor Panel (PFEI in Spanish) identified the possibility of more serious crimes as part of its preliminary investigation over the Telegram chat of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares and eleven of his closest aides. In its initial probe, the Justice Dept. found that Sánchez Sifonte, who managed Rosselló Nevares’ campaign, may have violated local Criminal Code articles related to misuse of a public position (252) and breach of public trust (262), the latter being a potential misdemeanor. The PFEI lists more severe articles, such as undue intervention in government operations (254) and undue influence (261), both of which carry jail time of up to eight years, depending on the circumstances. Like Justice, the PFEI also found potential misuse of a public position.

PFEI identifica delitos más graves que Justicia para Elías Sánchez y Edwin Miranda

Mientras que el Departamento de Justicia recomendó investigar al abogado y cabildero Elías Sánchez Sifonte solamente bajo dos posibles delitos, el Panel sobre el Fiscal Especial Independiente (PFEI) identificó la posibilidad de ilegalidades más serias de parte del también exdirector de campaña del exgobernador Ricardo Rosselló Nevares. En su investigación, Justicia solamente identificó como posibles delitos cometidos por Sánchez Sifonte imputaciones relacionadas a los artículos del Código Penal de aprovechamiento ilegal de trabajos públicos (252) y el de incumplimiento del deber (262), este último siendo uno menos grave. El PFEI enumera artículos más severos, como el de intervención indebida en las operaciones del Gobierno (254) y el de influencia indebida (261), ambos delitos conllevan cárcel de hasta ocho años, según la gravedad. Al igual que Justicia, el PFEI también vio aprovechamiento ilegal.   

Un caso similar ocurre con el publicista Edwin Miranda Reyes, a quien Justicia le identificó posibles delitos de fraude (202) e incumplimiento del deber (262), pero el PFEI añadió influencia (261) e intervención indebida (254), ambos con penas de cárcel de hasta ocho años. Tanto Justicia como el PFEI identificaron falsedad ideológica (212) — dar declaraciones falsas en un documento público — y aprovechamiento ilícito (252) como posibles delitos cometidos por Miranda Reyes.

Publicist Edwin Miranda tried to conceal his propaganda work, but reports say otherwise

Although after the publication of the Telegram chat, Publicist Edwin Miranda-Reyes claimed that the political work discussed in those conversations was billed and paid for by the Ricardo Rosselló political committee, during the period included in the 889 published pages there were no checks made out or bills issued by the committee on behalf of his advertising agency, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI in Spanish) found. Miranda is one of the 14 people who were referred last Friday by the Justice Department to the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (SIP) to investigate whether they committed crimes during those conversations. The CPI had access to the income and expense reports submitted by Ricardo Rosselló’s political committee to the Electoral Comptroller in which every candidate is legally required to — on a quarterly basis — disclose the money collected by their committee through donations or political activities, as well as all expenses for services received that have been paid or are pending payment. Miranda-Reyes said in written statements on July 12, 2019: “The FP+1 agency is responsible for providing advertising services to Ricardo Rosselló’s Committee for tasks related to promoting political affairs. That company handles social media.

Facing the risk of new earthquakes, Puerto Rico lacks a coordinated massive response plan for trauma emergencies

The greatest immediate death threat after earthquakes, such as those Puerto Rico has experienced for more than two weeks, are traumas that people may be exposed to in the face of a structural collapse. But Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado has not shared a plan to address this risk nor has contacted his specialized trauma team since the earthquakes began, dangerously exposing the public. So far, the director of the only trauma center on the island, the Medical Center’s Trauma Hospital, and president of the Puerto Rico Trauma Committee before the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Pablo Rodríguez-Ortiz, has not been contacted by Rodríguez-Mercado neither before nor during the emergency that has already claimed two lives, has downed dozens of structures, resulting in more than 2,000 evacuees. Rodríguez-Mercado has not shared the current written plan —the Public Health and Medical Services Emergency Management Operational Plan — with his Trauma director, nor has he addressed the hospital’s structural deficiencies, according to internal sources and documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish). The 1,048-page plan only mentions the Trauma Hospital once and makes brief mentions about the Medical Center’s role in an emergency such as an earthquake.