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Puerto Rico governor pleads not guilty to election fraud

[JURIST] Puerto Rican Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila [official website, in Spanish] pleaded not guilty Friday to 19 counts [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] of conspiracy, false statements, wire fraud, federal program fraud and tax crimes related to campaign financing, and other crimes. The charges stem from alleged violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act [text] during Vila's 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 campaigns to become Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner in the US House of Representatives and his 2004 gubernatorial campaign. If convicted on all counts, Vila faces up to twenty years in prison. He has denied any misconduct and accused US authorities of launching a politically motivated attack against him.

Vila is a member of the Popular Democratic Party [party website, in Spanish], which does not support full US statehood for the Commonwealth. He narrowly defeated former governor and pro-statehood candidate Pedro Rossello [campaign website, in Spanish] in a disputed gubernatorial election [JURIST report] in 2004. AP has more.

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