Spotlight on former Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez and the Operation Medusa

Former Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez managed a larger budget for jails construction and management than any other government official in the Dominican Republic history. On Tuesday, 29 June 2021 he was sent to the Palacio de la Justicia Ciudad Nueva jail to await arraignment. There is no air conditioning in the Ciudad Nueva cells.

His lawyers confirmed the former chief prosecutor was detained after he “voluntarily” visited the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to respond to charges. The evening before, Swat, Criminal Investigation Division of the Police (Dicrim) and prosecutors raided several properties tied to Rodríguez and other former officials at the PGR, as well as associated persons. Rodríguez was not found at his residence at the time. The PGR has named the case Operation Medusa.

On Tuesday, 29 June 2021, around 3pm, Rodríguez was handcuffed and donned with a bulletproof vest and riot helmet when he was transferred Palacio de la Justicia jail to await pretrial custody decision by a court in the next 48 hours. He is scheduled to appear before the judge of the Permanent Attention Office assigned to the case.

A good part of the Operation Medusa focuses on aggravated fraud committed by Rodriguez and accomplices to the Attorney General Office, primarily regarding jail construction and the Penitentiary System Humanization Program from 2016 to 2020.

The media has advanced that the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (Pepca), with the support of chief prosecutors, would accuse Rodriguez and accomplices of corruption, money laundering, criminal association, fraud against the state, forgery of public documents, identity theft, electronic crimes, money laundering, rigging bids and other crimes. Other cases of administrative corruption in the Medina administration have been named the Coral, Shell, Octopus operations. These cases are related to high-ranking government officials and close family of former President Danilo Medina.

The media has reported that seven of the accused in the preliminary file of the Medusa Operation case are under arrest. The lists includes former Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez. Others are: Rafael Antonio Mercede Marte, who was in charge of the Accounting Department at the Attorney General’s Office. Altagracia Guillen Calzado, who served as administrative assistant director of the Attorney General’s Office. Javier Alejandro Forteza Ibarra, who held the position of director of Information Technology of the institution. Private businessman Miguel José de Moya, who has served as communications strategy advisor to Rodríguez. De Moya had a RD$18 million contract for training courses at the PGR. Jenny Marte, formerly in charge of constructions for the Jail Humanization Program.

Another under investigation in the case is Rainiery (Reinicry) Elizabeth Medina Sánchez who Listin Diario reports has become the key whistleblower in the case. Medina Sánchez is described in the newspaper as a key collaborator with the prosecutors, much like Alejandro Girón Jiménez is to the Coral Operation. Medina Sánchez was in charge of the Attorney General Office warehouse where the seized items were kept. Medina Sánchez is not related to former President Danilo Medina Sánchez. The whistleblower is said to have exposed information that can serve as evidence in court of illegal, wasteful and fraudulent use of government funds in the Medusa Operation.

Medina Sánchez had been under arrest since mid-October 2020 when she was ordered to serve three months of preventive custody after being accused of heading a gang that stole articles from the Attorney General Office goods warehouses. With the change in command at the Attorney General Office, the new authorities determined thousands of goods were missing from the inventory, including TV sets, fans and washing machines. The goods had been acquired to equip Dominican jails.

The list of persons for whom orders of arrest have been issued in the Medusa Operation is: Jean Alain Rodríguez and in alphabetical order, Maria Josefina Azar Díaz, Braulio Michael Batista Reyes, Ney Ernaldo Caccavelli Guevara, Altagracia Guillen Calzado, Rafael Stefano Canó Sacco, Ronny Rafael Corporán, Miguel Jose de Moya, Amelia Isabel Escaño, Javier Alejandro Forteza Ibarra, Jenny Marte Peña, Johannatan Loanders Medina Reyes, Rafael Antonio Mercede Marte, Jonnathan Joel Rodríguez Imbert, Alejandro Martin Rosa Llanes, Francis Ramírez Moreno, Mercedes Camelia Salcedo Disla and Alfredo Alexander Solado Augusto.

As part of Operation Medusa, on Monday night and early on Tuesday morning, 38 raids were carried out in the National District, La Vega and La Romana to find evidence for the prosecuting in this case.

The raids and arrests occurred a day after Jean Alain Rodriguez would have left the country on a Spirit flight to Orlando, Florida. His flight suffered mechanical problems and returned to the airport for disembarking of all passengers, including Rodriguez. Later a migratory alert is said to have been issued by the Pepca office and this impeded his leaving the country. Attorney General Miriam Germán Brito released a statement indicating that an agreement had been reached the past week with the Migration Agency to leave without effect the practice of migratory alerts that was common when Jean Alain Rodríguez was the country’s chief prosecutor. Germán Brito said disciplinary action would be taken because Rodríguez did not have an impediment to leave the country at that time.

The raids began at 6:15pm on Monday, 28 June 2021, after Judge Kenya Romero, coordinator of the permanent courts of the National District, authorized the procedures requested by the head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (Pepca), Wilson Camacho.

In order to carry out their work, the prosecutors were authorized to extract data from electronic equipment found in the homes searched, as well as to carry out expert examinations in the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif) and the Department of Investigation of Crimes and High Technology Crimes (DICAT) of the National Police.

Read more in Spanish:
N Digital
Listin Diario
El Nacional
Listin Diario
N Digital
Noticias SIN
Diario Libre
Diario Libre
El Caribe

30 June 2021