SAN JUAN – A grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Marilyn Ayala-Ortiz, 59, from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, with embezzling at least $5,000 in inspection certificates, which were under the custody, care, and control of the Department of Transportation and Public Works of Puerto Rico.
Ayala-Ortiz was arrested on Monday, without incident, by agents from Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez. The lead agency during this investigation was the FBI, with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Puerto Rico Office of Inspector General.
According to the indictment, from on or about January 2007, up to and including November 2010, the defendant, being an agent of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, said agency receiving federal assistance in excess of $10,000 during each of the one-year periods beginning January 1, 2007 through on or about November 18, 2010, embezzled, stole, obtained by fraud, without authority knowingly converted to the use of a person not the rightful owner, and intentionally misapplied property worth at least $5,000, to wit, vehicle inspection certificates, under the custody, care, and control of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. It is estimated that Ayala-Ortiz embezzled more than $300,000 during the time period covered in the indictment.
Ayala-Ortiz was responsible for distributing inspection certificates to inspection station owners and/or their employees who presented vouchers from the Treasury Department. She was not allowed to receive cash payments in exchange for the certificates. However, from in or about 2007 until 2010, Ayala-Ortiz accepted cash payments for vehicle inspection service certificates, keeping the cash for herself. By paying Ayala-Ortiz directly, inspection station owners avoided having to go first to the PR Treasury Department, saving themselves time usually spent standing in line.
“The public trusts that those in government service will obey the law and protect the interests of the people. When that trust is broken, for personal financial gain, it is our responsibility to investigate and bring those who corrupt the system to justice,” said Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
If convicted, the defendant faces a possible penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.