Ex FBI agent turns self in to face Puerto Rico criminal case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who was indicted in a corruption case against a former Puerto Rico governor, turned himself into federal authorities Tuesday in the U.S. territory and declared himself not guilty, according to officials.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office told The Associated Press that Rossini’s attorney had reached out to authorities just days after former Gov. Wanda Vázquez was arrested to hand over his client.

Rossini is charged with conspiracy, federal program bribery and honest services wire fraud. He entered a not guilty plea during a brief court appearance in which a judge authorized that he could live in the U.S. mainland but not in Spain, where he is receiving cancer treatment. However, the judge said Rossini could travel to Spain for treatment.

His attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Last Thursday, hours after FBI agents arrested Vázquez, federal officials announced they were seeking Rossini, who was in Spain.

Rossini was an FBI agent from roughly 1991 to 2008, when he resigned as part of a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to criminally accessing a sensitive FBI database for personal purposes. Most of the searches were related to Anthony Pellicano, an infamous private detective for Hollywood stars who was charged in 2006 with wiretapping some celebrities and bribing a police officer.

Authorities said Rossini had provided consulting services to an Italian-Venezuelan banker who had promised to financially support Vázquez’s 2020 campaign for governor in exchange for her dismissing the commissioner of Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions and appointed a new one of the banker’s choosing. The banker, identified as Julio Herrera Velutini and founder of Bancrédito International Bank & Trust, is believed to be in the United Kingdom and faces charges including conspiracy, bribery and fraud.

Authorities said he was seeking a new commissioner after the bank came under scrutiny for apparent suspicious financial transactions.

After a new commissioner was installed, authorities said Herrera and Rossini paid more than $300,000 to political consultants to support Vázquez’s campaign.

On Tuesday, the newest commissioner announced that the bank was being voluntarily liquidated.

“What began in 2019 as a routine examination of one of the oldest and biggest international bank entities operating in Puerto Rico today reaches its final chapter,” said Commissioner Natalia Zequeira.

She said the process could take up to six months, and that her office will ensure that the bank fulfills its obligations with all its clients. The bank also was ordered to pay $250,000 in sanctions.

Banking officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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