MARCH 27, 2008
A three-year federal investigation has culminated with the indictment of Puerto Rico’s governor, and members of his campaign finance committee, for fraud, conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
In a 27-count indictment federal prosecutors lay out Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila’s corrupt tenure, which includes a sophisticated scheme to collect illegal campaign contributions, paying off campaign finance debt with fake invoices and using campaign funds for family vacations abroad and nearly $60,000 of luxury resort accommodations.
The disgraced governor is accused padding his campaign account with straw donations, illegal contributions submitted under other people’s names to avoid donation limits. Vila evidently had operative in Pennsylvania that began filling his campaign with big bucks while he was resident commissioner, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in the United States Congress.
The fundraisers would submit campaign donations in the names of relatives and employees of a Philadelphia dental company. Prosecutors say dozens of people participated in the scheme, which was orchestrated by the governor and a handful of loyal fundraisers.
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign provided a recent example of big time straw donations, nearly $1 million collected by a Chinese fugitive, Norman Hsu, who has since been jailed. The wealthy and quite shady bi-coastal businessman avoided contribution limits by funneling cash through associates and friends he later reimbursed, including a blue-collar California family of modest means that supposedly gave Clinton $47,500.
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