Corruption fighters are working overtime this week

This has been a week for corruption fighters to work overtime.

Saturday agents detained three municipal officials in Golfito on the allegation that they sought a $75,000 bribe from two foreigners there to approve a maritime concession.

Thursday agents detained five persons, including a guard, in the continuing investigation of the attempted May 11 prison break at La Reforma penitentiary.

Also in the news is the continuing investigation of 12 prison guards who are accused of subjecting maximum security prisoners to beatings. The presumed leader of the May 11 breakout attempt died as a result of days of systematic beatings, according to forensic medical reports.

At the Consejo de Seguridad Vial, the road agency, an employee is accused to accepting 100,000 colons, about $200, to return to motorists the license plates that traffic police had confiscated and voiding their traffic ticket. Officials say he got 25 million colons or about $50,000 during the course of the criminal activity. He was detained Thursday.

In Alajuela the owner of a mechanical chop is accused of falsifying paperwork so that motorcycle owners could reclaim their confiscated vehicle without paying fines and other charges.

In criminal court in Goicoechea Thursday was Pedro Pablo Quirós, the former head of the Instituto Costarricense de electricidad. He was trying to explain why he used a company helicopter to attend a wedding in Zarcero and to visit a friend elsewhere March 21, 2009.

It was in the legislature Wednesday when opposition lawmakers accused the Partido Liberación Nacional, the party of President Laura Chinchilla, of having a party with the property of the state. By one estimate officials from at least 20 municipalities of the country’s 81 are facing some form of investigation.

This week, too, the high criminal court, the Sala Tercera de Casación Penal, confirmed the five-year prison sentence of Mario Morales Guzmán, former mayor of Asserí.

He was accused of accepting a bribe from a trash collecting company for approval of a landfill.

Costa Rica, of course, is the country that has two ex-presidents convicted of financial manipulations involving cell telephone contracts and purchases of
medical supplies. The convictions have been appealed.

In the La Reforma case, investigators conducted raids Thursday to detain five persons, including the daughter of the prisoner who suffered the fatal beating. She was identified by the last names of Araya Campos. She lives in Dos Cercas de Desamparados, said the Poder Judicial. Her father was Jovel Guillermo Araya Ramírez, the presumed leader of the breakout attempt who was found dead in his maximum security cell May 22. Araya and other prisoners killed a guard in an earlier successful breakout Oct. 9, 2006.

Also detained was a prison employee identified as Castro Vindas. Agents know that someone provided the inmates with cell telephones, pistols and keys to the cell block before the breakout attempt. Castro is the leading suspect. A prison guard, Francis Morales Fallas, died in the shootout that ended the attempt as did two prisoners.

The Poder Judicial identified the three other men who were detained Thursday by the last names and hometowns of Chavez Núñez of Guápiles and Canales Porras and Morales Castillo both of Desamparados. Two other persons already had been arrested.

The attempted prison break involved detailed planning beforehand that appears to have been facilitated by one or more prison employees. Conspirators outside the prison purchased a vehicle, filled it with weapons, stashed it near the Alajuela prison and rented an apartment as a hideaway. There is some question as to whether Araya died because guards were punishing him for the death of their colleague or if they wanted him dead so he would not talk to investigators.

The mechanical shop operator who helped owners of confiscated motorcycles was identified by the last names of Molina Matamoros, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. In order to get a motorcycle freed from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes impound, a false power of attorney was used. Also used were false documents saying that the fines had been paid.

Molina is accused of actually participating in retrieving the motorcycles. Judicial police said there were 15 separate cases involving this fraud from last November until May.

In the Golfito case, the municipal offficials have been remanded to preventative detention. The mayor is Deylon Gerardo Arroyo Blandón. Also jailed for preventative detention were the president of the municipal council, Rodolfo Delgado Jiménez, and another official, Alexis Rojas Rojas.

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