Former mayor of Humacao, Puerto Rico, sentenced to prison in bribery scheme

The former mayor of Humacao Puerto Rico was sentenced to 3 years and 1 month in prison Tuesday for his role in a bribery scheme, according to the Justice Department. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The ex-mayor of Humacao, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison Tuesday for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme involving municipal contracts.

"According to court documents from 2021 until 2022, Reinaldo Vargas-Rodriguez, 49, was the mayor and highest-ranking government official in the municipality of Humacao," the Justice Department said in a press release Tuesday.

The Justice Department says Vargas-Rodriguez exchanged a variety of public contracts for money.

"Starting in 2021, Vargas-Rodriguez was involved in a bribery conspiracy in which he received and accepted cash payments from two businessmen in exchange for awarding municipal contracts for waste disposal services, asphalt and paving services, and debris removal, and paying outstanding invoices on the contracts," the Justice Department said.

According to Justice officials, "Vargas-Rodriguez received at least $27,000 in cash bribes from January 2021 through July 2021 from the two businessmen."

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Seth Erbefor and Nicholas W. Cannon of the Justice Department Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section.

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section has been cracking down on corruption in Puerto Rico, securing multiple convictions in recent months, including the conviction of two public works officials in October and of the former mayor of Guaynabo in March.