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associates de grees

Jorge de Castro Font

Jorge Adolfo de Castro-Font (born on September 10, 1963) is a Senator of Puerto Rico, and until recently the third most senior member of that body, after the Senate's President and Vice President, and a former member of the House of Representatives. He was expelled from the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in 2001 and later became a member of the New Progressive Party (NPP) in 2002. He was subsequently expelled from the NPP in August 2005 as a result of his support for the current Senate leadership at the expense of former governor, 2004 NPP gubernatorial candidate, and current fellow Senator Pedro Rossello. Rossello unsuccessfully attempted to unseat the current Senate president, Senator Kenneth McClintock and, when unsuccessful, expelled or sanctioned all those Senators from his party who refused to support the former governor, including De Castro Font. De Castro did not recognize the party's decision to expel him and continued to identify himself both as a supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico as well as a member of the New Progressive Party. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, in the case McClintock vs. Rivera Schatz, annulled De Castro Font's expulsion from the party. In a subsequent case, De Castro Font vs Partido Nuevo Progresista, the Court confirmed his right to appear in the NPP primary ballot. On October 2, 2008 De Castro Font was arrested by the FBI.

Early life

Born to former Puerto Rico Ombudsman Rafael Adolfo de Castro Campos and the recently deceased María Eugenia Font González, he is the grandson of Jorge Font Saldaña, one of former Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín's closest associates. De Castro Font studied issues relating to law and the justice system in Sacred Heart University, and subsequently obtained a Master's degree in Puerto Rican history. He served briefly in the Puerto Rico National Guard.

Legislative career

De Castro Font began his career in politics by being elected to the P.R. House of Representatives in 1988 at the age of 25, becoming the youngest elected representative up to that point. He was reelected to the post in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 general elections under the Popular Democratic Party.

Independent legislator in 2001

In August 2001, following internal disputes within the PPD, De Castro Font left the party to become an independent representative. There are several versions of the nature and manner of him leaving the party. While De Castro states that he willfully left the party, others suggest he was forced out.

On September 27, 2002, he announced that he was joining the ranks of the NPP and announced his candidacy for a Senate position under the NPP. He would go on to win the party primaries and eventually the Senate seat. The NPP majority caucus elected him on November 4, 2004 as the Majority Leader of the newly elected Senate.

PNP expulsion

In early 2005, following a narrow defeat in the 2004 gubernatorial race, former governor Pedro Rosselló announced he was aspiring for a Senate seat vacated by a freshman Senator for the district of Arecibo. After joining the Senate, he expressed his hopes of becoming president of the now NPP-controlled Senate, and asked his fellow party Senators to oust Senate President Kenneth McClintock and support him. However, several Senators, including De Castro Font, refused to do so. This prompted the NPP Directorate to expel several of these Senators, including De Castro Font, while suspending others.

As a result of the May 2005 confrontation in the Puerto Rico Senate's majority PNP delegation, De Castro Font gave up his post as the Senate Majority Leader, which became a powerless position held by Sen. Margarita Nolasco. He retained the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Rules Committee and, as such, continued to direct all floor activities in the Senate. As a result of the split, McClintock appointed him chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Municipal and Financial Affairs Committee, and co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on the Civil Code and the Joint Select Committee on the Penal Code.

In a 5-1 decision by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico the sanctions were invalidated, allowing De Castro Font to run for re-election under the NPP.

Legal issues

He was renominated on March 9, 2008 in the NPP primary by voters. On July 8, 2008, it was reported that De Castro Font was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which was based on testimony by witnesses interviewed regarding a second case. The pro-statehood senator responded saying that he "has never received money in exchange for a favor".

On August 23, 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigations raided Sen. De Castro's Capitol office, a San Juan, Puerto Rico gas station at which he was a client and his Hato Rey apartment after obtaining a search warrant from U.S. District Court Judge Francisco Besosa. On August 25, Federal agents visited the homes of some of his employees.

The search warrants confirmed the rumor of an ongoing investigation from the F.B.I. against Sen. De Castro Font. These events were considered by the NPP's President and candidate for Governor, Luis Fortuño, as sufficient cause to seek his disqualification as a candidate for reelection to the Senate. To this Senator De Castro Font responded aggressively and began to imply that he had information that could link many members of the NPP in illicit activities, including Resident Commissioner and Governor hopeful, Luis Fortuno and his wife. These accusations were taken as high treason to the party and gave furthermore strength to the argument of removing his name from the ballot.

On September 9, 2008, Sen. De Castro Font voluntarily arrived at the Federico Degetau Federal Building in San Juan to "turn himself in" after allegedly receiving a phone call that morning from a close friend of Fortuño's, advising him that he was to be arrested that day. The Senator opted to show up at court, rather than be publicly arrested. It is believed that after this event, the Senator and the FBI reached an agreement to allow the Senator to turn himself in voluntarily if there were ever a warrant for his arrest.

On September 10, 2008, San Juan District Court rejected the pleas of the New Progressive Party to expel Jorge De Castro Font from the ballot for the upcoming elections. The judge determined that once a candidate has been elected in a primary by the people and has been officially certified by the Comite Estatal de Eleciones (State Election Committee), he or she cannot be removed for reasons other than those specified by law. Puerto Rico electoral law states that a candidate may only be disqualified if he or she violates state or federal law, violations of internal Party policies are not sufficient cause.

On October 2, 2008, De Castro Font was arrested by the FBI in San Juan, Puerto Rico. De Castro Font was arrested and indicted on 32 federal charges including fraud, extortion, bribery and money laundering. His political consultant and aide, Alberto Goachet, 67, was also indicted of Honest Services Fraud and extortion. De Castro Font was arrested at his lawyer's office in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. The case is prosecuted by the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section headed by Chief William M. Welch II, and investigated by the FBI's San Juan Field Office.

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External links

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