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Operation Apocalypse | Robbing Rondônia

Rondônia senator Ivo Cassol sings his swan song in the Senate.

Rondônia senator, convicted of corruption, Ivo Cassol sings his swan song in the Senate.

Source: Agência Brasil.

Topic: State judicial police of Rondônia indict state and municipal lawmakers for participation in a criminal scheme

By: Fábio Massalli

Translation: C. Brayton

Brasília – Operation Apocalypse of the state judicial police of Rondônia indicted five state deputies and five city council members in a criminal scheme that handled more than R$ 80 million in nine states. The results were announced on September 4. In all, the state police of Rondônia indicted 81 persons for involvement in the scheme.

According to O Guapore, 54 arrests were made. The police Web site confirms that number.  It seems that the federal news agency may be reporting overall numbers while the Rondônians are reporting the numbers in their jurisdiction.

The investigation lasted nearly two years and initially targeted persons in the drug trade.

According to the same local news source, based on information from the state police the investigation lasted 18 months.

“The operation began by investigating the crime of financing and association with a drug trafficking conspiracy, and then, as investigations continued, we discovered evidence of embezzling and other crimes, such as <confidence games> and embezzling.

For this reason, investigations proceeded under the supervision of the narcotics court, but because of the involvement of elected officials, who have the right to be tried in a special forum.

After that, the supervising magistrate became the state high court,” explains state public security secretary Marcelo Bessa. Bessa also says that steps will be taken to investigate electoral crimes, administrative improprieties and crimes related to money laundering.

It is not clear what electoral crimes these might be, but …

… the state high court, in its final report suggests that the magistrate forward the case to the prosecutor of administrative probity for action related to possible administrative misdeed by legislators, and to the federal police in order to investigate what are probably electoral crimes.

Even more puzzling is the fact that the case was opened on July 11, 2013, by federal police,, acting in a “supporting role” but are neglected here.

The state was until recently governed by Ivo Cassol of the PSDB — who, though sentenced to a four-year, eight-month sentence for auction-rigging when he was the mayor of Rolim de Moura (1998-2002), remains a Senator of the Republic in good standing.

According to the chief of the state police, Pedro Mancebo, state deputies Hermínio Coelho (PSD), Jean Oliveira (PSDB),  Ana da 8 (PTdoB), Adriano Boiadeiro (PRP) and Cláudio Carvalho (PT) “were indicted for criminal conspiracy and embezzling.” In the event the indictment is accepted, they will be judged by the state high court, the “privileged forum” to which they have a right as elected officials.

City council members Eduardo Rodrigues (PV), Jair Montes (ex-PTC), Marcelo Reis (PV), Cabo Anjos (PDT) and Pastor Delson (PRB) were indicted by the narcotics court for financing and associating with drug traffickers. The first three, arrested during the operation, remain in custody.

In August, the Rondônia state legislative assembly established a commission to look into the conduct of the state deputies targets by Operation Apocalypse. The city legislature of Porto Velho impaneled a similar investigation.

Mancebo says that the investigation produced 55 volumes of documents, witness testimony, forensic examinations, film, telephone data, banking records, as well as 122 interrogations. “Evidence shows … that the scheme produced R$ 80 million in damages to banks, and that the case file shows that part of that sum belonged to the conspiracy, in the form of real property, cars and investments.”

How did it extract money from banks? How did it extract so much money from banks? Which banks?

One is reminded immediately of the bad — that is to say, fake — loans made by Banco Rural and used to fund political campaigns of various ideological tendencies.

The Folha de S. Paulo described in a recent report how the scheme works: I loan you money and we sign a contract for its repayment. You keep it on your books, but refrain from collecting on it.

Four of those arrested were transferred to the federal prison at Mossoró (RN), with no release date set. These are: Alberto Siqueira (Beto Baba), Fernando Braga Serrão (Fernando da Gata), city legislator Jair Figueiredo Montes and  Márcio Cesar Silva.

“The four persons in custody are considered to be those most intensely involved in the conspiracy. That is to say, it was these four who led the group. The decision to transfer them is so that they cannot in any way interfere in the course of the investigations, especially now that the case is in the briefing phase in the courts and in the political sphere — in the Câmara and Legislative Assembly,” Bessa said.

The investigation was forwarded to the prosecutor (MP) on Augsut 31, which give the MP ten days to analyze the summary of police actions that is included in the final report and to decide whether to accept the charges against the indicted parties.

EBC again.

The criminal organization operated in Rondônia, but had connections in six other states — Acre, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, São Paulo and Paraná — as well as the Federal District. According to the investigation, in Rondônia alone the group accumulated assets worth  R$ 33,5 million, including 200 vehicle R$ 7.5 million), 25 real properties (R$ 22.5 million ) and investments in companies (R$ 3.5 milhões).

What is the local press reporting?

Here are the Porto Velho dailies with a Web presence:

  1. The Estadão do Norte
  2. Diário da Amazônia
  3. O Observador
  4. O Guapore

None of them have anything to add to the official information.

Ivo Cassol broke his silence and spoke in the Senate last week, breaking down and weeping.

Disappeared since his conviction by the Supreme Court for fraudulent public works auctions during his time as mayor of Rolim Moura, Senator Ivo Cassol (PP-RO) reappared on Wednesday during the plenary session, and weeping, said he had committed no crime: he did not steal, overbill or divert public funds. He admitted he was “hanging up his football cleats,” but says he will fight to the very end to reverse his conviction and sentencing to 4 years and 8 months at a minimum security facility, as well as fine of R$ 201,817.05.

Proceedings to remove him from office will only begin when judicialappeals are exhausted, but until then he will count on the support and solidarity of senators from the PP, DEM and PRB to prevent his impeachment.

Emotional to the point of tears at certain moments, Cassol related his political trajectory and said he had been convicted based on a technical error of the city public works commission … but that all the projects were eventually completed.