Vargas convicted again over actions as public official

Eliseo Vargas was convicted again Monday, but he still is free pending a likely appeal.

Vargas is the former head of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. He was convicted in the Fischel case that involved the purchase of medical equipment for $32 million. Also convicted in that case was former president Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier. The trial tribunal found that some of the money had been diverted and workers at the Caja hospitals said the equipment was not needed.

Vargas also was convicted along with former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría in the Alcatel scandal that involved the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. That case involved the allegation that Alcatel executives paid bribes to win a contract for cell telephones in Costa Rica.

In the Caja case Vargas received a three-year sentence but was given what amounted to probation. He got two years in the Alcatel case.

Monday he received a sentence of four years on five counts that involved hiring an adviser who did not have to report to work. The assistant, Renato Soto received a three-year sentence, but was granted probation.

The trial was in the Tribunal Penal de Hacienda in Goicoechea. The allegations covered the time Vargas was running the Caja.

Vargas was a lawmaker when the $32 million loan came before the Asamblea Legislativa. He was the person who helped put the bill through into law.

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