Puerto Rico mayor arrested on corruption charges
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Authorities have arrested a small-town mayor
on federal charges of extortion and soliciting kickbacks, the latest in a wave of
corruption cases in Puerto Rico.
A federal grand jury indicted Liborio Ruben Caro Muniz, mayor of the west
coast town of Rincon, on two counts of extortion and six of receiving kickbacks
from a contractor in exchange for projects. Federal prosecutor Guillermo Gil
announced the indictment at a Wednesday news conference in the capital of this
U.S. Caribbean territory.
Officers arrested Caro Muniz at his home Wednesday morning and brought
to the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico in San Juan. He pleaded innocent, and
Magistrate Aida Delgado released him on $100,000 bond.
"I'm not guilty," Caro Muniz told reporters as he left the court. "This
accusation that's on paper there, but I have to study it to see what it is they're
saying about me. This morning they arrested me and brought me here without
giving me documents or anything."
Gil compared the case to that of former Toa Alta mayor Angel Rodriguez,
was convicted of demanding $2.5 million in kickbacks for a federally funded
cleanup contract after Hurricane Georges in 1998.
"It's the same type of behavior that disgracefully is almost a custom in
country in which many public officials demand payment of kickbacks to
authorize contracts," Gil said.
The indictment alleges that Caro Muniz was asking a contractor for $20,000
worth of kickbacks to award the company two contracts -- one to rezone
municipal land and another to design a lighting system for a sports stadium.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press