A former top Haiti’s telecom company official has been sentenced to prison for nine years by a Miami federal judge in a bribery case that legal sources say is now focusing on deposed Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, according to Miami Herald.
The court described as “ludicrous” his testimony that the bribes he took from two Miami businesses were gifts for doing such a good job for them.
“It’s perjurious,” U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez said of Jean Rene Duperval’s trial testimony in March. Duperval testified that the nearly $500,000 in bribes he received from two local telecom contractors were “tokens of appreciation.”
The judge’s finding of obstruction of justice, along with other factors such as the amount of the kickbacks, doubled Duperval’s sentencing under federal guidelines. Martinez ordered Duperval, 45, to pay the kickback amount to the U.S. government. The defendant used some of the money to buy his Miramar home and finance his three children’s Florida Prepaid College Plans, prosecutors said.
Duperval was found guilty of money laundering offenses by a U.S. jury in March, one of eight people convicted so far in a massive case brought by the Justice Department under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. One former U.S. telecommunications executive, Joel Esquenazi, received a 15 year sentence, the longest ever imposed under that anti-corruption law, federal prosecutors said.
Testifying in his defense, Duperval insisted the payments through shell companies he controlled from Miami based Cinergy Telecommunications and Terra Telecommunications were not bribes but only "tokens of appreciation" for doing his job well. Martinez called that testimony "ludicrous" before finding Duperval had committed perjury on the witness stand, grounds for adding to his sentence.