Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila now faces a second indictment as a U.S. grand jury Tuesday charged the governor and others with five counts of wire fraud and conspiracy allegations relating to possible campaign fund abuse.
The new charges follow a 19-count indictment filed in March against Acevedo Vila, 46, for similar allegations. The first-term governor and member of the Popular Democratic Party is in the midst of a re-election campaign, and will face opponent and current Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuno, a member of the New Progressive Party, in the November general elections. The PDP favors keeping the island as a U.S. territory while the NPP supports Puerto Rico becoming a state.
According to this week's indictment, Acevedo Vila and others concealed $250,000 of campaign donations when a public relations and media company allegedly credited the governor's debts with the firm when it received payments from the company's comptroller and chief financial officer. The company also created false invoices in relation to the payments, citing the money was for services rendered, yet the indictment claims there were no services offered in connection to the payments.
Acevedo Vila continues to deny the charges and his attorney, Thomas Green, said the second indictment comes suspiciously before the upcoming general elections.
"This new indictment comes a month and a half after we moved to dismiss the original indictment based on its numerous legal defects. That is no coincidence," Green said in a prepared statement. "It also comes just 11 weeks before the citizens of Puerto Rico are scheduled to go to the polls to vote for their governor. That is no coincidence either. I am dismayed that the U.S. Department of Justice, which has previously vowed to purge itself of political motivations and influences, is still determined to engage in these kinds of heavy-handed, unfair tactics in Puerto Rico. Acevedo Vila firmly denies these charges."