Artículo del SAN JUAN STAR del 6 de agosto de 2012 : $20 Million Public Funds for Vocero to be NPP Propaganda Arm
Despite owing the government millions of dollars Spanish language daily El Vocero in the past two years has received $20 million in incentives, con- tracts and advertising from public agencies and munici- pal governments, a inside source said.
According to the informant, who requested to re- main anonymous, El Vocero did not qualify for incen- tives or subsidies because it owed the government $14 million in taxes.
While tax data is not public we were able to obtain a Department of Labor and Human Resources (DLHR) tax report dated Feb. 29, 2012, indicating El Vocero owes the government $563,735 in unpaid unemployment taxes. This would be part of the other taxes owed, but serves to confirm an outstanding liability and due to the tax debt El Vocero is ineligible for job creation incentives under Law 52.
However, all that changed around 2009 when top management, led by parent company Caribbean Inter- national News Corp. Managing Partner Elliott Stein and then El Vocero President Miguel Roca, decided to con- vert company divisions into five separate corporations, the source said.
Parent company Caribbean International News Corp. -- leaving El Vocero with only its editorial staff and sales force -- created Multi Media Management LLC, Multi Services Co. LLC, News Distributor of Puer- to Rico LLC, Prime Printing LLC, and Multi Media Enterprises LLC, all directly linked to El Vocero’s top management.
Stein owned 85 percent of the corporations’ sha- res, while Roca owned the remaining 15 percent. Roca still owned his shares when ousted by the paper’s board of directors in January 2011. It is not known whether he was bought out when attorney Peter W. Miller took over as president.
Miller is closely linked to the New Progressive Party (NPP), and is under contract as a consultant to Se- nate President Thomas Rivera Schatz.
The informer said El Vocero management fired se- veral hundred of its Journalists, Graphic Artists and Re- lated Branches Union (UPAGRA, by its Spanish acron- ym) employees. UPAGRA sued for breach of contract and won, and the paper was ordered to pay salaries and other benefits. El Vocero has yet to pay.
“After restructuring, almost overnight, El Voce- ro moved its management to the new companies, and hired new people. They placed new employees in the same old jobs and using technicalities each of the cor- porations applied for government new jobs incentives” the source stated.
“Creating the corporations is an evident scheme to evade and avoid having to comply with Puerto Rico tax laws, while receiving million of dollars in incentives under Law 52,” the source pointed out.
The Comptroller’s Office online registry indicates that as of June all six companies linked to El Vocero – parent company Caribbean International News and the five new corporations -- have central and municipal go- vernment contracts for a whopping $11, 264,955.
Separately, Caribbean International News has contracts worth $2,158,580, Multi Media Management, $795,257; Multi Services Co., $1,767,165; News Distribu- tor of Puerto Rico, $5,283,499; Prime Printing, $716,980; and Multi Media Enterprises, $543,474.
The corporations have contracts with seven go- vernment entities and municipalities: the Caguas-Gua- yama Local Job Development Area, Carolina Local Job Development Area, Puerto Rico Traffic Safety Commis- sion, Department of Labor and Human Resources, as well as the Guaynabo and San Juan municipal govern- ments, and the University of Puerto Rico administrative headquarters, according to Comptroller’s Office data.
Their certificates of incorporation in the State De- partment, the contracts, and other public documents confirm the direct link between each of the corporations and El Vocero, and the newspaper’s president, Miller.
“Ironically, about 60 percent of the El Vocero corpo- rations’ contracts were granted through the Department of Labor and Human Resources,” the informant said.
The letterhead on contract 2012-000283 between News Distributors of Puerto Rico and the Department of Labor, signed Aug. 9, 2011, for $2,110,765, indicates the funds are salary incentives under Law 52.
The agreement indicates News Distributor was obligated to create or maintain 72 jobs during the 12 months after the contract expiration date of June 30, 2012. It was signed by corporation President August Fields and Labor Secretary Miguel Romero.
According to the State Department digital Cor- porations Registry, News Distributor was incorporated April 28, 2009, under the same physical and mailing address as the law offices Weinstein-Bacal & Miller PSC of El Vocero President Miller.
News Distributors President August Fields signed government contracts worth $5,283,499. The other gover- nment contracts were signed by Miller himself.