Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Former Puerto Rico Senator Hector Martinez Maldonado and Juan Bravo Fernandez, the former president of Ranger American, one of the largest private security companies in Puerto Rico, were each sentenced to 48 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a bribery scheme involving the passage of legislation beneficial to Bravo Fernandez’s business, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Martinez Maldonado, 49, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Bravo Fernandez, 63, of San Juan, were each sentenced by Judge Francisco A. Besosa. Judge Besosa also ordered Bravo Fernandez to pay a $150,000 fine and Martinez Maldonado to pay a $15,000 fine. Maldonado and Fernandez were convicted on May 26, 2017, of federal program bribery.
According to evidence presented at trial, Martinez Maldonado was elected to the Puerto Rico Senate in 2004 and began serving a four-year term in January 2005. He was reelected in 2008. Beginning in 2005, Martinez Maldonado served as Chairman of the Puerto Rico Public Safety Committee, exercising significant control over legislation related to security and community safety. Bravo Fernandez was the president and chief executive officer of Ranger American, one of the largest private security firms in Puerto Rico.
The jury convicted the defendants for their role in a bribery scheme in which Bravo Fernandez provided Martinez Maldonado and Jorge de Castro Font, another former Puerto Rico senator, with a trip to Las Vegas to watch a championship boxing match between Winky Wright and Felix “Tito” Trinidad, a legendary Puerto Rican boxer, in exchange for the senators’ help with legislation favorable to Bravo Fernandez’s business interests.
Documents and evidence presented at trial showed that the trip to Las Vegas included first-class airfare; meals and drinks; hotel rooms at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; $1,000 tickets to the Trinidad vs. Wright boxing match; and hotel rooms in Miami for the return trip. On March 2, 2005, the day that Bravo Fernandez paid for the boxing tickets, Martinez Maldonado submitted one of the bills favorable to Bravo Fernandez for consideration by the Puerto Rico Senate. The evidence at trial also showed that the hotel reservation was made the day after Martinez Maldonado presided over a Public Safety Committee hearing for one of the bills at which Bravo Fernandez testified, and that, the day after the three men returned from their trip to Las Vegas, Martinez Maldonado and de Castro Font both cast their votes in support of one of Bravo Fernandez’s bills in the Senate.
De Castro Font, 54, served in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives from 1989 to 2004, and served in the Puerto Rico Senate from 2005 to 2008. De Castro Font pleaded guilty on Jan. 21, 2009, to 20 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. He was sentenced on May 17, 2011, to 60 months in prison.