First conviction of former Commissioner José Manuel Viareggio. After years of unsuccessful legal action, the state sanitation representative has to accept a 19-year prison sentence handed down by the National Court. This sentence, for the Land, Iron and Pintor segments, was key because it is the first trial against him in the so-called Operation Tandem, an all-private corporate case of a former high-ranking police officer. After this ruling, many others will come as the former commissioner has dozens of cases pending for his assaults for years, including Operation Kitchen, for using seized funds to steal documents on Box B from PP treasurer Luis Barcenas.
Despite the fact that the sentence is close to two decades in prison, it is a far cry from the more than 80 years sought by the anti-corruption prosecutor. The court sentenced him for the crimes of disclosing secrets and forging a commercial document, but acquitted him on charges of bribery and extortion. Withdrawing the bribe is key to the rest of the cases because according to this ruling, Villarejo sold his own company, through Cenyt, not the police company; Therefore, although he was a public servant, he did not act as such. The ruling stated that “the activity carried out by the defendant, was not intended in any way to undermine the legitimacy and standards of work of the public administration, but to obtain greater private benefits by providing a series of services that are difficult to achieve, at least through legal channels.”
The decision, consisting of 351 pages, considers that he cannot be found guilty of bribery because the requirements for this criminal type do not meet given that the actions carried out by Villarejo “were not carried out in the exercise of his office and were not related to his public activities.”
In the event of an appeal, it will be the Appeals Chamber of the National Court and ultimately the Supreme Court that will determine whether this argument about bribery is valid. Both the convict and the public prosecutor’s office can appeal the verdict, and in the meantime, the department must, at the request of one of the parties, examine whether there is a visit for the former commissioner to enter into protective custody while there is a final judgment. Villarejo has already spent more than three years in pretrial detention after his arrest in November 2017.
Judges of the Fourth Section of the Criminal Chamber delivered judgment in the first three cases tried in the so-called Tandem case, in which Villarejo’s company, Cenyt, was investigated for carrying out certain tasks.
In total, 26 people were tried, in addition to Villarejo, including his partner Rafael Redondo, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for the same crimes as the previous commissioner. Nine other people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three months to two years, while 16 others were acquitted, including Viareggio’s wife, Gemma Alcala, and their son, José Manuel Viareggio Gil, as well as police officers Constancio Riaño and Antonio Bonilla. In the case of Enrique García Castaño, he was excluded from the trial due to illness.
Villarejo acted in his own interest
What the Chamber pleads to free Vilarego from bribery is that the acts of this accused were not carried out in the exercise of his office, and were not related to his public activities.
There is no record of any payments made by clients to public servants, to obtain data, and what’s more, there was no relationship or contact between them, the only link being Villarejo.”
The court explains that the clients of Villarejo, the company Herrero y Asociados or Susana García Cereceda – the owner of the farm – did so because of their status as owners of Cenyt, responsible for providing confidential reports, with the services of detectives and lawyers.
“His services were required in his capacity as the real owner of a large multidisciplinary business network called Cenyt, which declared itself on social networks as an intelligence unit dedicated to economic and financial investigation, adding that it maintained close institutional and operational relations with the state security agencies and forces and with the administration of justice, which allowed it to achieve large doses of efficiency.”
The Court also rejects that the facts fit the actual bribery because the individuals who hired Villarejo’s services did not seek to harm the administration for their own benefit “but to pursue private and spurious interests.”
In the case of the piece of iron, it consisted of damaging a competing company made up, among other things, of different persons formerly part of Herrero y Asociados SL. With regard to García Cereceda, the aim was to search for information on the directions and intentions of the various people associated with the family in order to position themselves before future claims regarding the inheritance of the late businessman of Cereceda, Mr. García. Processa, and his widow, Silvia Gómez Cuetara, also influenced the other people surrounding the latter.
Villarejo, “a superlative degree of deception”
The judgment excludes the offense of bribery but indicates that the facts analyzed and the deception approved could fit with other criminal types for which the defendants have not been charged and therefore cannot be convicted of fraud.
It concludes that “the extreme degree of deception perpetrated against his unsuspecting clients, in spite of their professional qualifications – and the displacement of assets as a result of such a fallacy would place Viareggio’s actions in the orbit of crimes of a fraudulent nature of which he was not accused”.
The ruling includes a private opinion of Judge Carmen Paloma González who disagrees with the ruling because she understands that José Manuel Viareggio is the author of two bribery offenses due to contracting with his company Cenyt in the Iron and Land, as well as several defendants in these lots as necessary collaborators in this crime.
Special Vote: “For Villarejo’s activities, the cooperation of the police was essential”
This judge considers that in order to carry out Cenyt’s activities it was absolutely necessary to have cooperation with the police establishment.
The acts committed by Viareggio and the persons he used, according to this judge, “are contrary to the duties inherent in his office and, more specifically, to the crimes, and therefore directly attack the prestige and effectiveness of the public office, the impartiality of its officials and the effectiveness of the public service entrusted to them”.
As a result of the foregoing, the dissenting opinion adds: “It is concluded that it is impossible to reconcile the mission legally attributed to a public official to prevent the commission of crimes with the performance of a private activity for which he carried out illegal (criminal) activities.”
His innocence was blackmailed by a lawyer by the manager of Ana Rosa Quintana’s ex-husband
In connection with the piece that dissolved the husband of TV presenter Ana Rosa Quintana, the chamber acquitted Vilarego of an alleged racketeering charge committed by businessman Muñoz – one of whom is Quintana’s husband – against the lawyer of a former partner of both.
The Chamber stated that no verdict of the accusations, neither public nor private, was issued “to prove the existence of specific facts that constitute a crime and the participation of the persons accused of committing that crime.”
He points out that the lack of evidence is absolute, and forms a model in the case of José Manuel Villarejo Gil, son of the former commissioner, whose only approved activity was present at a meeting at Cenyt’s headquarters.
The court points out that there is no reference at any time to specific acts of violence or intimidation committed against the residents of Mateo Martín Navarro or Francisco Javier Urquia, which tend to induce them to carry out or omit any legal act or transaction to their detriment.
In this article, the only two persons sentenced to 3 months in prison for the crime of disclosure are the brothers Juan and Fernando Muñoz Tamara who signed on October 1, 2020, in the presence of their lawyer, a document with the Public Prosecutor acknowledging the facts, which was certified at trial. In addition, they both set aside €10,000 to face civil responsibilities that could result in a penalty.
Among the victims of these events, former lawyer and judge Francisco Javier Urquia, granted an express pardon to all defendants, while the other injured party, former partner of Muñoz Mateo Martín Navarro, waived civil and criminal claims against all defendants except Viareggio and Redondo, the Muñoz Tamara brothers and the other defendants.