San Juan, Puerto Rico - A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment Tuesday charging a former media producer with extortion and obstruction of justice during a federal investigation in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Sixto Jorge Díaz Colón, 52, of San Juan, was charged with three counts of extortion and obstruction of justice related to his involvement in a scheme linked to the disclosure of Telegram chat messages during the summer of 2019, and his subsequent actions during the investigation of the allegations by the FBI.
According to the indictment, Díaz Colón attempted to extort a public official in the Government of Puerto Rico on June 20, 2019. Díaz Colón attempted to secure a $300,000 payment and other things of value from the official in exchange for the assurance that certain Telegram messages containing damaging information about various public officials in the government would not be disclosed publicly. When approached by the FBI on July 26, 2019, Díaz Colón is alleged to have deleted Telegram messages containing information about his involvement in the scheme, before surrendering his cellular telephone to the authorities.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendant sought to extort a public official of the government of Puerto Rico for his own financial gain, and then compounded his crime by allegedly destroying evidence of his involvement in the scheme when approached by the FBI,” said Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Criminal Division is committed to preserving the public’s confidence in our government and protecting public and private citizens alike from the types of criminal exploitation posed by the defendant.”
“Defendant Sixto Jorge Díaz Colón threatened and attempted to extort government officials for $300,000 and the awarding of government contracts,” said Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “He threatened to use his influence as a member of the media and on behalf of two public relations firms to destroy the reputations of public officials if they didn’t comply with his requests. Make no mistake, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partner agencies will prosecute those who attempt to extort others and obstruct justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Public corruption has many faces… Most often the subject will be a public official who has used his/her position for personl gain,” said Rafael Riviere Vázquez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “Sometimes, however, criminals will try to exploit the weaknesses of those who hold public office. This is also a form of public corruption and as any other form of corruption, it will not be tolerated. We have said this before and it merits repeating. If you are a victim or a witness to, or if you find yourself somehow involved in, a public corruption scheme, it will never be too late to do the right thing. We are here, we are doing our job and we want to hear from you.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Criminal Chief Timothy Henwood and Division Chief Myriam Fernández-González of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Trial Attorney Michael N. Lang of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN). Former PIN Trial Attorney James Pearce also assisted in the investigation.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.