The former mayor of the Municipality of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, José Luis Cruz Cruz, age 62, pleaded guilty today in Puerto Rico to engaging in a bribery conspiracy in which he received cash kickback payments in exchange for the award of municipal asphalt and paving contracts as well as municipal trash removal contracts.
According to court documents, in 2020 and 2021, José Luis Cruz Cruz solicited and accepted multiple kickback payments from Individual A and Individual B via Individual C. Individual A was the owner of an asphalt and paving company awarded municipal contracts in Trujillo Alto. Individual B was the owner of a trash removal company awarded municipal contracts in Trujillo Alto. José Luis Cruz Cruz, as mayor, directed municipal employees to execute these contracts. In 2020 and 2021, José Luis Cruz Cruz agreed with Individual C that Individual C would solicit and obtain cash payments from municipal contractors. During that period, José Luis Cruz Cruz received approximately $10,000 from Individual A and Individual B via Individual C in cash kickback payments.
Cruz Cruz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow for the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Gonzalez of the FBI San Juan Field Office made the announcement. The FBI San Juan Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth A. Erbe for the District of Puerto Rico are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to combat public corruption by municipal officials in Puerto Rico. In addition to the above matters, the Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico have recently obtained convictions against other former public officials and contractors in the District of Puerto Rico for soliciting and accepting bribes related to municipal contracts. See United States v. Pedro Marrero-Miranda, 22-251(RAM); United States v. Ramon Conde-Melendez, 22-221 (PAD); United States v. Eduardo Cintrón-Suárez, 22-151 (SCC); United States v. Luis Arroyo-Chiqués, 21-485 (SCC); United States v. Félix Delgado-Montalvo, 21-463 (RAM); United States v. Oscar Santamaria-Torres, 21-464 (RAM); and United States v. Raymond Rodríguez, 21-465 (RAM).
Additionally, the department recently obtained indictments charging several former officials and contractors with bribery related to municipal contracts, and those cases are still pending. See United States v. Mario Villegas-Vargas, 21-468 (FAB); United States v. Ángel Pérez-Otero, 21-474 (ADC); United States v. Radamés Benítez-Cardona, 21-475 (PAD); United States v. Javier García-Pérez, 22-185 (ADC); and United States v. Reinaldo Vargas-Rodríguez, 22-186 (PAD).