Puerto Rico Lawmaker Arrested After Reelection for Kickbacks

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Just days after winning reelection, Puerto Rico lawmaker Nestor Alonso has been arrested on corruption charges, according to Stephen Muldrow, U.S. attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

Speaking at a press conference in San Juan Thursday, Muldrow said the 35-year-old local legislator is facing nine charges, including theft of federal money, receiving kickbacks and honest services fraud.

Alonso, a member of the U.S. commonwealth’s incumbent New Progressive Party, or PNP, is the third local legislator this year to face allegations of inflating an employee’s salary in exchange for kickbacks. Alonso didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment.

His arrest casts another shadow over the U.S. territory, which has seen its access to federal recovery funds hindered by perceptions of corruption.

Pedro Pierluisi -- the front-runner in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race and the head of Alonso’s PNP party -- asked the lawmaker to resign.

“I reiterate, in my government there will not be space or tolerance for corruption,” Pierluisi wrote on Twitter.

According to Muldrow, starting in 2018, Alonso required an unnamed employee to return a portion of their salary. In total, officials said Alonso pocketed at least $40,000.

Alonso has been a local legislator since 2016, becoming the first blind person to ever hold the job. He was also the head of the body’s tourism committee. He was reelected to a new four year term on Tuesday.

The news comes as Pierluisi is holding onto a narrow lead in the governor’s race. While he has held a victory party and other officials -- including the sitting governor -- are referring to him as “governor elect,” the opposition has yet to concede.

Pierluisi’s chief rival, Carlos Delgado Altieri, is holding a press conference Thursday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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