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Puerto Rico Subcontractor Pleads Guilty In $1.2 Million Federal Kickback Case

CHRISTIANSTED — A Puerto Rican subcontractor has signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors that includes a possible three-year prison sentence and a promise to pay $1.2 million in restitution for paying kickbacks on a government contract, authorities said.

Reinaldo Cruz Taura, the president of Puerto Rico-based RCT Mechanical Engineering, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of providing kickbacks, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine, according to the agreement signed Monday.

United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert for the District of the Virgin Islands announced the plea agreement today, saying that Taura had federal government subcontracts to perform work on the federal building and courthouse in St. Croix and on Coast Guard facilities in Puerto Rico.

Taura will be sentenced at a later date, Shappert said.

According to court documents filed in the case, from June 2011 through June 2015, Taura paid over $1.2 million in kickbacks to a senior project manager for the prime contractor on the St. Croix and Puerto Rico projects.

In addition, Taura falsely inflated the expenses billed under the subcontract in order to cover the costs of the aforementioned kickbacks.

This case is being investigated by the General Services Administration – Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the Department of Agriculture – Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan Brooks and Jennifer Blecher.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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