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Three Puerto Rico Senate Officials Charged In Corruption Scheme

SAN JUAN — Three officials with Puerto Rico’s Senate were arrested by FBI agents Thursday and later charged by the U.S. commonwealth’s federal prosecutor with alleged corruption for a case involving a scheme to defraud the legislature using “ghost employees.”

Federal prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said 18 charges were brought against Angel Figueroa Cruz, director of the Senate Office of Government Affair; Isoel Sanchez Santiago, an assistant to the Senate president; and Chrystal Robles Baez, a contractor to the body.

“This kind of practice is not going to be tolerated where federal funds are involved,” Rodriguez told a news conference. The case comes as Puerto Rico suffers through an economic recession and continues to recover from devastating hurricanes.

Officials in Puerto Rico and with the FBI say other similar cases are being investigated and did not exclude more people being charged.

The purported scheme involved the accused billing the Senate for professional services that were never provided.

The scandal has shaken Puerto Rico’s politicians and officials.

“We are surprised and saddened by the news,” Senate president Thomas Rivera Schatz wrote on social media. One of the accused, Sanchez Santiago, was an assistant to Rivera Schatz.

After learning of the arrests, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said his administration “will not tolerate or be an accomplice to any act of corruption wherever it occurs.”

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