Appeal frees lawyer Arcelio Hernández

Arcelio Hernández Mussio, the lawyer who was convicted of fraud in July and sentenced to 10 years in prison, has been released.

Hernández posted a notice of his successful appeal on his Facebook page and then confirmed his release in an email to A.M. Costa Rica Tuesday night. He said he had experienced five and a half years of a  Calvario on the allegations of U.S. clients. That is a Spanish word taken from the New Testament and means a long, painful journey

The Tribunal de Penal de Puntarenas sentenced the lawyer to 10 years in prison in July and ordered him to pay back more than $1 million to seven investors. The lawyer said that the Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia de San Ramón annulled that sentence.

Hernández has been held in preventative detention in a Puntarenas facility while the appeal was decided. He has insisted that he is innocent. His email is highly critical of those involved in the judicial process including the three judges who convicted him and a prosecutor.

His email included a copy of the final paragraph of the appeal verdict, and it appears that the panel also ordered that money taken by the state be returned to him.

The trial court identified the presumed victims of fraud as Justin Dean Hamel, Gretchen Hamel, Sherry Lee Meehan, Chistine Larson, Suresh Kumar Krishnan, Ray David Krueger-Koplin and Suzane Therese Krueger-Koplin, according to the decision.

The court said that Hernández took some $626.698.68 that had been entrusted to him for the purchase of the Hotel Rancharlo in Sámara, which was owned through a corporation by Canadian Michael Lefrance. The closing was supposed to be  June 1, 2010.

The trial court in its decision made a distinction that Hernández was convicted of his activities as an escrow agent and not as a lawyer or notary. The lawyer said Tuesday night on his Facebook place that he would make sure today that the Colegio de Abogados lists him as not being suspended.

Hernández has been an advertiser in A.M. Costa Rica.

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