Criminal Justice

Puerto Rico judge convicted in bribe-taking case

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A Puerto Rico Superior Court judge has been convicted of accepting bribes to acquit a man in a fatal drunk-driving case.

Manuel Acevedo-Hernandez, 62, was convicted Wednesday of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and receipt of a bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release.

Acevedo-Herndandez was accused of accepting bribes in exchange for the acquittal of Puerto Rico accountant Lutgardo Acevedo-Lopez on vehicular homicide charges in connection with a 2012 collision that killed a security guard, the Associated Press reports.

Acevedo-Lopez has already pleaded guilty to charges that he used an intermediary to bribe the judge by paying his back taxes, renovating his garage, and buying him a motorcycle, clothing, a watch and other gifts.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said the verdict should help restore the public’s trust in the fairness of the judicial system.

“Judicial corruption strikes at the very heart of our legal system,” she said. “Justice must be determined by the evidence and the law, not by bribe payments from those with the deepest pockets.”

Acevedo-Hernandez is scheduled for sentencing April 20.

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