SAN JUAN – A San Juan judge on Wednesday found cause to order the arrest of Puerto Rican former Sen. Antonio “El Chuchin” Soto on 26 counts of aggravated misappropriation of funds and falsifying documents.
The 26 charges are linked to the collection of more than $2,000 in per diems for attending Senate committee meetings, despite the fact that on the dates for which the per diems were requested he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Judge Lady Buono set bail at $1,300 and set a preliminary hearing for June 26.
Prosecutor Emilio Arill said that the judge imposed a nominal bail due to Soto’s health, given that the former senator underwent open heart surgery just a month ago.
Arill said that testimony will be taken from airlines personnel as proof that Soto was on a trip to the Dominican Republic on the dates when he claimed to be attending the legislative sessions.
Soto was in the forefront of Puerto Rican media reports in June 2011 for another reason: namely, he was unable to explain where he had acquired an automobile worth almost half a million dollars.
The case attracted the attention of then-Gov. Luis Fortuño, who demanded that Soto explain how he had acquired the Bentley Arnage valued at $480,000.
Soto, a member of Fortuño’s PNP party, resigned his Senate seat in September 2011, acceding to pressure from his party colleagues. EFE