Jury convicts Néstor Alonso Vega to 63 months in prison for federal funds theft, kickbacks, and honest services wire fraud

Despite defense claims that federal prison is not adapted for a blind person

Former Rep. Néstor Alonso Vega was sentenced today to 63 months in prison by Judge Raúl M. Arias Marxuach, despite defense claims that the federal prison is not adapted for a blind person.

In addition to the prison time, the former New Progressive Party legislator was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

The representative may turn himself in to authorities at a later date.

In its sentencing memorandum, the prosecution highlighted that Alonso Vega began accepting money as part of a kickback scheme just 15 months after swearing that he would serve his constituents from the Legislative Assembly “without any interest other than that inspired by the common good.”

“From April 2018 to September 2020 (Alonso Vega) violated his oath by corruptly demanding and accepting kickbacks from an employee of his legislative office. In doing so, he abused a position of immense power and took advantage of the discretion he obtained as an elected public servant,” the Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed in the document.

The prosecution requested for the first two charges – theft of federal funds and bribery with federal funds and kickbacks – a sentence of 60 months of imprisonment to run concurrently. The honest services wire fraud charge required another 10 months for a total of 70.

In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office requested that the former legislator be ordered to pay $81,500 to the House of Representatives.

Attorney Michael Corona, who is in charge of Alonso Vega’s legal representation, argued to the magistrate that the federal prison system presents enormous security problems for his client, who would be exposed to physical or sexual attacks and harassment.

A jury of five women and seven men unanimously found Alonso Vega guilty of theft of Puerto Rico government funds, bribery and kickbacks, and wire fraud of his honest services.

The trial was tinged by the testimony of the federal prosecution’s star witness, Alexis Torres, about the alleged “affairs” Alonso Vega had with several female office employees. Torres was an employee of the legislator’s office charged by the legislator for kickbacks.

The indictment detailed that, in early 2018, Alonso Vega inflated the salary of “Person A” from $760 biweekly to $1,446.52 and then increased the salary to $2,043.08.

According to the indictment, from each check of the inflated salary, it was agreed that “Person A had to pay back half of the total amount of the increase each payday.” The defendant used a variety of means to receive illegal payments, including transfers via ATH Mobile.