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Puerto Rico Arrests 2 Ex-Gov. Aides

March 25, 2002

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Two aides to former Gov. Pedro Rossello were arrested Monday, the latest in a series of arrests involving former public officials to be charged in a widening corruption investigation.

Authorities in the U.S. territory did not immediately reveal the charges against Angel Luis Ocasio, deputy chief of staff to Rossello during the mid-1990s, or lawyer Maria de los Angeles Rivera.

The charges against Ocasio constitute a second round of accusations against him. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion. He allegedly paid a bribe of $35,000 to Andres Barbeito Cambiella, the former administrator of Puerto Rico’s public employees’ retirement system.

Rivera worked in the governor’s office and was in charge of handling Rossello’s calendar.

A federal grand jury handed down an indictment on Friday against a group of former government employees. It was unclear how many were involved.

Rossello left office in 2000, and his successor, Gov. Sila Calderon, has pledged reforms to guard against corruption.

The arrests on Monday are the latest in a series of accusations involving officials during the tenure of Rossello, who led an unsuccessful campaign to make Puerto Rico the 51st state.

In January, authorities arrested former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo and 16 others on charges of stealing federal funds, extortion and money laundering.

In Rossello’s last year in office, high-ranking administrators were convicted of stealing $2.2 million meant for AIDS patients, and funneling some of it to the party. Rossello was not linked to any wrongdoing.

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