Saturday, September 22, 2018

FBI arrests Puerto Rico senator facing corruption charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The FBI on Wednesday arrested a Puerto Rico senator accused of defrauding his employees while serving as mayor of a small town in the island's southwest region.

Abel Nazario, who also is the vice president of the governor's New Progressive Party, faces charges including wire fraud and falsifying documents.

Authorities say that while he was mayor of Yauco, employees were required to work two voluntary hours a day. The Department of Labor identified this as a violation, and Nazario agreed to pay nearly $590,000 in back wages to 177 employees.

However, authorities said they later learned that the municipality was withholding employees' wages, despite Nazario's pledge that he would not retaliate against workers.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico said Nazario benefited from the money withheld, but declined to provide details, arguing it was part of their evidence.

FBI spokesman Carlos Osorio told The Associated Press that Nazario was arrested at his home without incident. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico's governor has asked Nazario to resign. After appearing in court, Nazario told reporters he won't step down.

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