WASHINGTON The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday
ruled unanimously against a Puerto Rican politician who had
sought to avoid a second trial on corruption charges involving a
trip to Las Vegas to watch a boxing bout after his original
conviction was tossed out.
It was the first ruling by the eight justices in their term
that started in October. The decision was a setback to Hector
Martinez Maldonado, who served in Puerto Rico's Senate from 2005
until his 2011 conviction, as well as businessman Juan Bravo
Fernandez, the former president of a private security company.
Bravo Fernandez sought to bribe Martinez Maldonado to win
passage of legislation that would benefit his business,
according to prosecutors.
The case focused in part on allegations that Bravo Fernandez
paid for Martinez Maldonado to travel to Las Vegas in 2005 to
watch boxer Felix "Tito" Trinidad, a sports hero in the
Caribbean U.S. territory, lose to underdog Winky Wright.
Bravo Fernandez and Martinez Maldonado were convicted for
their roles in the alleged bribery scheme. But the Boston-based
1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013 threw out their
The Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg, rejected the defendants' contention that a
second trial would violate the U.S. Constitution's protection
against "double jeopardy," which prevents people from being
tried on charges for which they already have been acquitted.
Their lawyers argued the double jeopardy prohibition should
have applied because the jury had acquitted the pair on some of
the criminal charges concerning conduct closely related to the
actions on which the retrial would be focused. Prosecutors
maintained that the acquittals were inconsistent with the
convictions, suggesting jurors did not understand the law.