Corruption in the Caribbean: FBI arrests Puerto Rico’s former education secretary on fraud charges

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The FBI has arrested Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s former education secretary, and five other people on a combined 32 counts of fraud and related charges.

The Associated Press reported that Keleher and her alleged co-conspirators were accused of spending $13 million in federal money on unqualified contractors with political connections. Keleher’s assistant and that assistant’s sister were also arrested as part of the same case.

“It was alleged that the defendants engaged in a public corruption campaign and profited at the expense of the Puerto Rican citizens and students. This type of corruption is particularly egregious because it not only victimizes tax payers, it victimizes those citizens and students that are in need of educational assistance,” Neil Sanchez, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General’s Southern Region said, according to the AP.

In addition to Keleher, former Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration head Ángela Ávila-Marrero was arrested and charged with spending $2.5 million in federal funds on similar contractors for political purposes. Neither former official is being accused of benefiting personally. Both Keleher’s and Ávila’s alleged crimes took place between 2017 and 2019. – READ MORE

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