Home Local News Martínez, Bravo face sentencing hearing
Issued : Wednesday, February 29, 2012 05:55 AM
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Martínez, Bravo face sentencing hearing

By CB Online Staff

Former New Progressive Party Sen. Hector Martínez and businessman Juan Bravo were due back in federal court on Wednesday for a sentencing hearing for their corruption convictions last year.

U.S. District Court Judge Francisco Besosa is expected to hand down their sentences on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison term of between 15 and 19 years for Martínez and from 10 to 15 years for Bravo.

The sentencing motion filed by Peter Koski, deputy chief of the criminal division of the public integrity section, also asks Besosa to levy a $20,000 fine on Martínez and a minimum $200,000 fine for Bravo, the former president of Ranger American security company.

Prosecutors also said the judge should deny both men any motion for bond pending appeal of their sentences and should order their immediate surrender to begin serving their prison terms once the sentences are handed down.

The maximum prison sentence for both men is 10 years under sentencing guidelines for 2005, the year in which the crimes were committed. However, prosecutors requested a stiffer sentence, stating that the 2011 version of the sentencing guidelines are applicable in the case.

In March 2011, a federal jury found Martínez guilty on bribery and conspiracy counts. However, Besosa quickly dismissed his conspiracy conviction. The jury acquitted him of an obstruction of justice charge and a count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of racketeering.

Bravo was convicted on all three charges he faced — bribery, conspiracy and the interstate commerce violation.

The two were convicted after Bravo in 2005 gave Martínez and convicted former Sen. Jorge de Castro Font an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas and boxing tickets in exchange for the passage of two bills that would have benefitted the businessman financially.

“The evidence established that defendants Bravo and Martínez did not have a relationship predating Martinez’s election to the Senate and the only thing that they have in common were Senate Projects 410 and 471,” the motion states.

While Martinez was acquitted of the obstruction of justice charge, the prosecutors’ petition noted that the facts necessary to support a sentencing guideline enhancement is preponderance of the evidence.

Koski noted that preponderance of the evidence showed that Martínez, through Jennisca Rodríguez, attempted to influence the statements of a witness to the FBI.

The document states that Bravo also attempted to warn De Castro Font and an aide, Carlos Díaz, about the investigation in what was described as an obstruction of justice.

Meanwhile, Martínez’s defense attorneys argued that the punishment should fit the crime. In that regard, they said he should not serve prison time. The defense described Martínez as an extraordinary man who worked his way through law school but rather than pursue a career in the private sector opted to go to public service. They noted that he lives with his 77-year old mother and takes care of her.

The defense reiterated Martínez’s innocence and blamed the fact that he went on the Las Vegas trip to the fact that was naive.

“Mr. Martínez believed this was just a guys trip to Las Vegas for the weekend and nothing more and perhaps naively, he trusted everyone would see the trip for what it was,” the document reads. “To his credit, Martinez had no reason to believe anyone would question his motives for supporting the legislation. which was not controversial and passed the Senate without significant opposition.”

The defense said the case involved a single trip to Las Vegas, so the benefit that Martínez received was at best a few thousand dollars and “experience teaches us that no politician sells himself so cheaply.”

Moreover, the defense noted that Martínez had been thoroughly punished. He had to resign from the Senate and is going to lose his license to practice law.

“These collateral consequences to the conviction, should be considered,” the defense said.

Bravo, on the other hand, submitted his request for a lower sentence but requested that it not be made public.

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