Former Puerto Rico governor Wanda Vázquez charged with bribery, US Justice Department says

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(CNN)Former Puerto Rico governor Wanda Vázquez was arrested Thursday successful San Juan connected bribery charges connected to the financing of her 2020 campaign, the US Justice Department says.

One of her attorneys, Peter John Porrata, told CNN Vazquez volition plead not blameworthy to the charges.

Vázquez is the archetypal erstwhile politician to look national charges.

    A onetime governmental advisor for Vázquez and the president of an planetary slope person pleaded blameworthy to participating successful the bribery scheme, according to a DOJ statement. A erstwhile FBI cause besides participated successful the alleged scheme, national officials say.

      From December 2019 done June 2020, the 62-year-old erstwhile politician allegedly conspired successful a strategy with assorted individuals to concern her gubernatorial campaign, according to the DOJ.

      Vázquez allegedly received much than $300,000 from 2 businessmen to concern governmental consultants during her campaign, Stephen Muldrow, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, told reporters Thursday.

      Vazquez and others are charged with conspiracy, national programs bribery and honorable services ligament fraud.

        The ex-governor faces 7 corruption charges and a imaginable condemnation of up to 20 years successful prison.

        Puerto Rico Fast Facts

        "The alleged bribery strategy roseate to the highest levels of the Puerto Rican government, threatening nationalist spot successful our electoral processes and institutions of governance," Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. said successful a statement.

        The bribes was allegedly paid successful speech for Vázquez making appointments to the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions that benefited the businessmen progressive successful the scheme, Muldrow said.

        Vázquez is expected to look successful US District Court successful San Juan connected Thursday.

        A erstwhile Secretary of Justice, Vázquez served arsenic politician of the US territory from 2019 to 2021. Her assignment came aft disgraced erstwhile politician Ricardo Rosselló was forced to measurement down pursuing islandwide protests against his government.

        She became Secretary of Justice successful January 2017 -- with a mandate that included warring corruption connected the land -- and was an state of Rosselló.

        In 2018, Vazquez came nether occurrence for allegedly intervening connected behalf of her girl successful a lawsuit stemming from a location theft. She faced charges of violating authorities morals laws. But a justice aboriginal ruled determination was insufficient grounds to apprehension her.

        Vázquez's little tenure arsenic politician was contentious.

        Her ties to the disgraced erstwhile politician brought scrutiny. Critics accused her of failing to unfastened investigations against members of her ain party, peculiarly Rosselló and his administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria successful 2017.

        In January 2020, Puerto Ricans poured onto the streets of San Juan calling for her resignation aft Hurricane Maria supplies were recovered successful a warehouse successful the metropolis of Ponce, much than 2 years aft the storm.

        Later that year, Puerto Rican officials confirmed Vásquez was being investigated for suspicion of mishandling resources meant to mitigate earthquake harm connected the island.

        Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, who was elected politician aft Vásquez, said Thursday, "Under my medication determination is zero tolerance for corruption."

        Supreme Court rules Puerto Ricans don't person  law  close    to immoderate   national  benefits

        "Today we spot erstwhile again that nary 1 is supra the instrumentality successful Puerto Rico," Pierluisi, a subordinate of the aforesaid pro-commonwealth enactment arsenic Vásquez, said successful Spanish via Twitter.

        The apprehension "certainly affects and lacerates the assurance of our people," the politician said.

        "I reiterate that successful my medication we volition proceed to person a communal beforehand with the national authorities against anyone who commits an improper act," said the governor.

        "Wherever it comes from and whoever it whitethorn implicate, arsenic good arsenic promoting initiatives and pursuing up connected the bills that I person presented to combat corruption," helium said.

        In 2019, Rosselló handpicked Pierluisi arsenic his successor.

        His short-lived tenure came to an extremity after conscionable 5 days erstwhile Puerto Rico's Supreme Court declared his governorship unconstitutional.

          Vázquez was subsequently sworn in. "In airy of the determination by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, I indispensable measurement speech and enactment the Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico," Pierluisi had said successful a connection astatine the time.

          Pierluisi past won the predetermination for the spot successful November 2020.

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