Puerto Rico Businessman Pleads Guilty To Bribing Judge

August 14, 2014


Ludgardo Acevedo

News Americas, SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Fri. Aug. 15, 2014: A 39-year-old Puerto Rico businessman has pleaded guilty to bribing a senior Puerto Rico judge.

Lutgardo Acevedo-Lopez, a certified public accountant in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty to bribing Superior Court Judge Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez.

On June 30, 2012, a car driven by Acevedo-Lopez collided with another car, resulting in the death of the other car’s driver.   Acevedo-Lopez was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the incident.

Acevedo-Hernandez, a supervisory superior court judge in the Aguadilla judicial region of Puerto Rico, presided over the case and acquitted Acevedo-Lopez of all charges.

In his plea agreement, Acevedo-Lopez admitted that he bribed Acevedo-Hernandez to use his official position as a judge for Acevedo-Lopez’s benefit.

Specifically, Acevedo-Lopez admitted that he used an intermediary to bribe Acevedo-Hernandez by paying taxes owed by Acevedo-Hernandez, paying for the construction of a garage for Acevedo-Hernandez, and providing Acevedo-Hernandez with a motorcycle, clothing and accessories, including cufflinks and a watch.

In exchange, Acevedo-Hernandez acquitted Acevedo-Lopez of all charges.

Acevedo-Lopez is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8, 2014 before Chief U.S. District Judge Aida M. Delgado-Colón in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Charges remain pending against Acevedo-Hernandez, who was charged with bribery-related offenses in an indictment unsealed on May 28, 2014, in the District of Puerto Rico.

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Costa Rican Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering

August 14, 2014


Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, describes charges against Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve, one of the worlds largest digital currency companies and seven of it’s principals and employees for allegedly running a $6 billion money laundering scheme at a news conference in New York, May 28, 2013.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 15, 2014: A 47-year-old Costa Rican national has pleaded guilty to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to allegations contained in the indictment and statements made in related court proceedings, Azzeddine El Amine, of San José, Costa Rica, in his role as a principal deputy Liberty Reserve, a company that operated one of the world’s most widely used digital currency services, helped users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes, and it emerged as one of the principal money transfer agents used by cybercriminals around the world to distribute, store, and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity.

El Amine was arrested in Madrid, Spain, in May 2013, and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Liberty Reserve was founded by Arthur Budovsky El Amine and operated a prominent Liberty Reserve “exchanger” service, through which he shared in Liberty Reserve’s profits with Budovsky, the indictment said.

Before being shut down by the government in May 2013, Liberty Reserve had more than one million users worldwide, including more than 200,000 users in the United States, who conducted approximately 55 million transactions through its system and laundered more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds of crimes, including credit

Liberty Reserve was used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cybercriminals around the world to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions, federal authorities said.


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Chikungunya Death Toll Passes 30 In The Caribbean

August 12, 2014

chikungunya-mosquito-newsamericasnowNews Americas, Stockholm, Sweden, Weds. Aug. 13, 2014: The death toll from the mosquito borne disease, chikungunya, now stands at 32 in the Caribbean according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Chikungunya disease rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most people who get sick feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may last for months or years.

The six new deaths were all reported in the French Caribbean island of Martinique, where the number of deaths from the disease now stands at 19.


An outbreak of the chikungunya virus infection has been ongoing in the Caribbean since December 2013 and has now spread to North, Central and South America.

Compared to last week, the number of reported cases of chikungunya infections has risen by 8 percent in the Caribbean nations of Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (Dutch), Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and the US Virgin Islands., according to the Center for Disease Control

There are now more than 510 000 probable and confirmed cases in the region.

The Dominican Republic accounts for the highest increase, with more then 26 000 new cases reported.

The CDC recommends that travelers to the Caribbean protect themselves from mosquito bites. People who have arthritis, are older than 65, pregnant and have serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes) are most at risk to the disease.

There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. The only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing bites can be difficult, but it is important as you can get sick after just one bite.

The CDC recommends  taking the following steps to reduce the chances that you will be bitten by mosquitoes during your trip.

Prevent mosquito bites:

Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.

Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.

Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:


Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)

IR3535  (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)

If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.

Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:

Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.

If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.

Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.

Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

If you feel sick and think you may have chikungunya:

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.

Tell them about your travel.

Get lots of rest, and drink plenty of liquids.

Avoid spreading the disease by preventing more mosquito bites.

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Guyanese-Born Former Queens District Leader Found Guilty

August 12, 2014

Albert Baldeo

Guyanese-born attorney, Albert Baldeo.

News Americas, QUEENS, NY, Weds. Aug. 13, 2014: Guyana-born attorney and former Queens District Leader, Albert Baldeo, was this week found guilty of tampering with witnesses during the investigation of his alleged campaign fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”).

Baldeo, 54, of Richmond Hill, NY, was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in Manhattan federal court after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Baldeo was acquitted of three fraud-related counts relating to approximately $15,000 in claims for city matching funds from the CFB which were never awarded.

Baldeo is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Crotty on December 16, 2014, at 11 a.m.

According to the complaint, indictment, and superseding indictment and evidence presented at trial, in the fall of 2010, Baldeo, then a Queens District Leader of a political party and attorney, participated in a scheme to defraud New York City that involved the funneling of multiple illegal campaign contributions to his ultimately unsuccessful campaign for City Council.

On various occasions, Baldeo, and in at least one instance one of Baldeo’s employees, provided money orders or cash to individuals to contribute to the campaign in their own names, even though Baldeo supplied the funds and these individuals did not contribute any of their own money or reimburse him for these donations.

As part of this scheme, Baldeo gave each such donor, commonly referred to as a “straw donor,” a campaign contribution card in which he or she wrote his or her name, address, employment information, and the amount of money purportedly donated to the Baldeo campaign.

He instructed the straw donors to sign the contribution cards falsely affirming that the contribution was being made from their personal funds and was not being reimbursed in any manner. The New York City Campaign Finance Board (“CFB”) relied upon the information contained in these fraudulent contribution forms, among other things, in order to determine whether to release public matching campaign funds to Baldeo’s 2010 campaign.

Moreover, as part of this scheme, Baldeo instructed several of these straw donors to sign affidavits, at least one of which was actually provided to the CFB, that also falsely asserted that these straw donors’ contributions were made using their own funds.

After learning of the FBI’s investigation of this matter, Baldeo obstructed the investigation by repeatedly instructing certain straw donors to provide false information to, or not cooperate with, the FBI agents who were investigating contributions to his campaign.

“The fact that Albert Baldeo lost his election does not excuse his corrupt conduct,” said U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. “These practices have no place in our politics or our justice system, and there should be no doubt that this Office will prosecute such conduct while it continues to vigorously investigate and prosecute political corruption in New York City and New York State.”


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14 Charged with Trafficking Identities of Puerto Rican U.S. Citizens

August 12, 2014

arrestNews Americas, SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Weds. Aug. 13, 2014: Fourteen people have been charged in a scheme to traffic the identities and corresponding identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens.

The 14 were hit with three indictments in Puerto Rico including conspiracy to commit identification fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft and passport fraud in connection with their alleged roles in the scheme.

The multi-count indictments were returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 6, 2014.   Since that time, five of the defendants have been found and arrested (four in Puerto Rico and one in Florida.   According to the indictments, from at least July 2008 through April 2014, conspirators in the mainland United States and in Puerto Rico sold the identities and corresponding Social Security cards, Puerto Rico birth certificates and other identification documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens to undocumented aliens and others residing in the mainland United States.

Those arrested will be arraigned in federal court this week.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining defendants, who will make their initial appearances in federal court in the districts in which they are arrested.


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Super Moon Cloudy Over Brooklyn, NY

August 11, 2014

Super-Moon-2014-newsamericasnowNews  Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Mon. Aug. 11, 2014: The perigee-syzygy or  full/new moon, aka, the Super Moon, failed to shine brightly over Brooklyn and Queens, NY early Monday morning with residents there getting a cloudy view instead of the worldwide phenomenon.

Clouds blanketed the Super Moon at 2:01 a.m. Monday morning as it passed over South Brooklyn, New York.

Scientists says a “supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.”

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Cocaine Found In Sugar Cane Sweets

August 10, 2014

Cocaine in sugar cane sweets

The cocaine was found in caramelized sugar cane sweets. (US CBP image)

News Americas, STERLING, VA, Mon. Aug. 11, 2014: Over one and a half pounds of cocaine in caramelized sugar cane sweets were recently found on a Honduran woman trying to enter the U.S. through Dulles International Airport.

The woman, who requested entry as a courier on business, arrived on a flight from El Salvador.  As a courier, she was referred for a routine secondary examination to have her packages inspected.

Among other things she was carrying, Customs & Border Patrol officers discovered a brown cone shaped package wrapped in cellophane.  The woman stated they were caramelized sugar cane sweets originating in Honduras.

A CBP officer probed one of the sweets with a knife and discovered a white, powdery substance on the blade that field-tested positive for cocaine.  CBP officers inspected the rest of the sweets and were able to extract the cocaine from all eight pieces. The total weight of the cocaine was slightly less than 1 pound, 10 ounces and could have had a street value of more than $80,000.

During fiscal year 2013, which spans Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted a little more than 12 pounds of cocaine in four seizures.

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‘Cremains’ Of Jonestown Guyana Victims Found In Former Delaware Funeral Home

August 7, 2014

jim-jones-cult-guyanaNews Americas, DOVER, Delaware, Fri. Aug. 8, 2014: The cremated remains of several victims of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana, South America have been found in a former funeral home in Dover, Delaware.

The ‘cremains” were found among 38 small containers of ashes found inside the former Minus Funeral Home at 222 North Queen Street in Dover, Delaware, according to Dover police.

Of the 38 containers, 33 were clearly marked and identified, police said. Nine of the 33 containers of unclaimed ashes were identified as victims of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre.

The marked containers of cremains spanned a period from approximately 1970 through the 1990s. The funeral home’s owner, Edward Minus, died in 2012 and the funeral home was foreclosed on in October 2013 after his son, Edward Jr., was unable to take the business over. The building is now bank-owned, according to property records.

“It was definitely a shock when we found out exactly what we had,” said Dover police spokesman Mark Hoffman. “Obviously, it’s an intriguing story and a tragic story, and to think this was found right here in our jurisdiction, about six blocks from the police department, makes it very compelling to us.”

Documentation found in the funeral home, including death certificates, helped forensic investigators tied the nine remains to the Jonestown Massacre, police said. State forensic investigators have taken possession of the remains and are continuing to identify them and make notifications to family members.

The Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security Division of Forensic Science (DFS) and the Dover Police Department conducted an exploratory excavation on the property.

On Nov. 18, 1978, gunmen from the Peoples Temple cult founded by Jim Jones, ambushed and killed U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California, three newsmen and a defector from the group at Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana as they visited on a fact-finding mission to investigate reports of abuses of members.

A total of 913 body boxes – more than 900 victims of the shocking mass killing and a handful of others, including leaders of the Peoples Temple – were flown from Guyana to the Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies were identified and prepared for burial, according to articles published at the time in The News Journal.

Doretha Minus, who co-owned the former funeral home with her husband Edward Sr., who is now deceased, told the Dover Post that family members at the time would call and arrange to have their loved ones ashes flown home. Some couldn’t afford it, others never called, the paper quoted her as saying.

At least 29 of the Jonestown victims were cremated in New Jersey before the practice was temporarily halted because the six Delaware morticians who brought the bodies across the state line weren’t licensed to do so. Delaware initially barred the cremation or burial of the Jonestown dead in the state because death certificates weren’t immediately available.

Meanwhile, several bronze gravesite markers for deceased veterans who served in World War I through the Vietnam War were also located in the facility during the initial DFS check. These markers will be presented to family members if they can be located or returned to the Veterans Administration.










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Jean-Bertrand Aristide Facing Money Laundering, Corruption Probe

August 7, 2014


Jean Bertrand Aristide (File Photo)

News Americas, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Fri. Aug. 8, 2014: Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has reportedly been banned from leaving Haiti following a probe into money laundering, corruption and drug trafficking.

Judge Lamarre Belizaire is reportedly in charge of the query, according to Port-au-Prince civil court judge Raymond Jean Michel.

Michel was quoted by AFP news agency as saying the prode dated back to 2006 and 2007 and a dozen people including several Aristide associates, as well as former dignitaries of his regime have been summoned for questioning.

“There are two cases concerning former president Aristide at the court related to money laundering, corruption and the illicit drug trafficking,” AFP quoted him as saying.

Aristide , Haiti’s first democratically elected leader, was voted president twice, in 1990 and in 2000. However, he was ousted by two coups during his tenure.

He returned to his homeland in March 2011.

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