Home Local News Martínez, Bravo get 4 years behind bars
Issued : Thursday, March 1, 2012 12:55 PM
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Martínez, Bravo get 4 years behind bars

By CB Online Staff

Former New Progressive Party Sen. Héctor Martínez was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday for his conviction last year on federal corruption charges.

The former lawmaker will also have to serve three years probation, complete a substance abuse program for an unspecified addiction and pay a fine of $17,500, U.S. District Judge Francisco Besosa said.

Co-defendant Juan Bravo, a local businessman and former head of Ranger American, one of the island’s largest security companies, was also sentenced to four years behind bars and three years probation. He was ordered to pay a fine of $175,000 and perform 200 hours of community service.

Martínez was freed following the sentencing, but ordered to surrender later Thursday to begin serving his prison sentence.

Bravo, who has health issues, was given until April 16 to start serving his term behind bars.

“It could have been worse,” said Bravo’s defense attorney David Chesnoff, who express confidence that his client’s conviction would be overturned on appeal.

In March 2011, a federal jury found Martínez guilty on bribery and conspiracy counts. However, Besosa 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, the former president of Ranger American security company, 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 benefited the businessman financially.

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

Peter Koski, deputy chief of the criminal division of the public integrity section at the U.S. Justice Department, had asked Besosa to levy a $20,000 fine on Martínez and a minimum $200,000 fine for Bravo.

Koski also said Besosa should consider the more than $1 billion Loomis Fargo stood to lose if the local Legislature approved a Senate bill to amend the island’s private detectives law.

Defense lawyers argued that there was no evidence presented at trial that the Las Vegas trip was aimed at driving Loomis Fargo out of the local market.

Martínez and Bravo pleaded for mercy during the first day of the sentencing hearing on Wednesday Martínez and Bravo pleaded for mercy.

After hearing from the prosecution, defense and the two defendants, Besosa postponed handing down their sentences until Thursday, saying he did not have their sanctions “written in stone.”

A tearful Bravo pleaded for Besosa to show compassion for his family.

Martínez, meanwhile, struggled to come to terms with the final chapter of the legal saga.

“The worst that can happen to a person is to lose their life or their freedom,” Martínez told the court. “I’ve lost part of my life and I’m about to lose my freedom.”

His defense asked the judge to send the disgraced former lawmaker to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at a federal correctional facility for an unspecified addiction.

Federal Bureau of Prison guidelines say the rehabilitation program is designed for inmates with a history of drug or alcohol abuse in the 12 months leading up to sentencing.

Martínez’s attorney Abbe Lowell sought to get his into the program at a federal facility in either Florida or Alabama. Participants are separated from the general prison population.

Completion of the nine-month program, during which inmates get a minimum of three hours of addiction treatment per day, can lead to sentence reductions.

The prosecution did not object to the motion, but details of the addiction were kept under wraps by the court.

In March 2011, a federal jury found Martínez guilty on bribery and conspiracy counts. However, Besosa 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, the former president of Ranger American security company, 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 benefited the businessman financially.

The prosecution and defense teams delivered their final arguments for sentencing earlier Wednesday.

Koski pushed the government’s case for stiff prison terms at the upper range of sentencing guidelines.

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.

Lowell, Martínez’s attorney, argued that there was no quid pro quo in the case, so Besosa should stick to the guidelines.

In a court filing earlier this month, Lowell argued that Martínez should not serve prison time. The defense described the former lawmaker 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.

Lowell noted in court on Wednesday that Martínez lives with his 77-year old mother and takes care of her.

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