A Puerto Rico businessman pleaded guilty today to bribing Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez, who presided over the businessman’s vehicular homicide trial and acquitted him of all charges.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division made the announcement.
According to court documents, Lutgardo Acevedo-Lopez, 39, was a certified public accountant in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. On June 30, 2012, a car driven by Acevedo-Lopez collided with another car, resulting in the death of the other car’s driver. Acevedo-Lopez was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the incident. Acevedo-Hernandez, a supervisory superior court judge in the Aguadilla judicial region of Puerto Rico, presided over the case and acquitted Acevedo-Lopez of all charges.
In his plea agreement, Acevedo-Lopez admitted that he bribed Acevedo-Hernandez to use his official position as a judge for Acevedo-Lopez’s benefit. Specifically, Acevedo-Lopez admitted that he used an intermediary to bribe Acevedo-Hernandez by paying taxes owed by Acevedo-Hernandez, paying for the construction of a garage for Acevedo-Hernandez, and providing Acevedo-Hernandez with a motorcycle, clothing and accessories, including cufflinks and a watch. In exchange, Acevedo-Hernandez acquitted Acevedo-Lopez of all charges.
Acevedo-Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8, 2014 before Chief U.S. District Judge Aida M. Delgado-Colón in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Charges remain pending against Acevedo-Hernandez, who was charged with bribery-related offenses in an indictment unsealed on May 28, 2014, in the District of Puerto Rico. The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Peter Mason of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Henwood and Jose Capo of the District of Puerto Rico.
Citizens of Puerto Rico who have information about alleged public corruption are encouraged to contact the FBI’s San Juan Division at (787) 754-6000.