SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico –Walter Pierluisi Isern, Eduardo Pierluisi Isern, and American Management and Administration Corporation (AMAC) pleaded guilty today to one count of Theft of Federal Program Funds in relation to the misappropriation of operational funds provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the administration of public housing projects (PHPs) in Puerto Rico.
According to court documents, the defendants admitted to knowingly and intentionally stealing money from HUD federal assistance programs from 2014 to August 2022 for their own use and the use of others. The total amount of theft was approximately $3,712,000.00.
Given its fiduciary responsibility to manage millions in HUD funds and to operate over 5,000 housing units in 12 municipalities, AMAC was specifically prohibited from contracting with any company affiliated to AMAC or its officers. Walter Pierluisi Isern was the president and Eduardo Pierluisi Isern supervised the repair and maintenance work at the PHPs for AMAC during the duration of the fraudulent scheme.
The defendants admitted in their plea agreements that despite AMAC’s fiduciary obligations, Walter Pierluisi Isern and Eduardo Pierluisi Isern used their executive positions within AMAC to operate a fraudulent schemed designed to circumvent that prohibition. In furtherance of that scheme, they illegally caused operational funds from the federal assistance programs to be routed via corporations and subcontractors that they controlled, all to personally enrich themselves. The defendants further admitted that they caused AMAC to submit false certifications to HUD assuring that no conflict of interest existed between AMAC and the companies hired to provide operational services in violation of federal law.
As detailed in the proceedings, Walter Pierluisi Isern created contracts for FiveStar Pest Control, Inc. (FiveStar) and CoolBreeze Air Conditioning, Inc. (CoolBreeze) to provide services to PHPs under AMAC’s management. He then caused multiple payments to be made by FiveStar and CoolBreeze to funnel money to Docu‑Wharehouse, Pier Property, and XY Enterprises, subcontractors which were controlled and owned by Walter Pierluisi Isern. Through this scheme, Walter Pierluisi Isern illegally obtained approximately $2,035,498.86 in HUD funding that was earmarked for PHP operational expenses.
The admissions included the recognition that Eduardo Pierluisi Isern caused checks from FiveStar and CoolBreez to be issued to the names of others, which he then cashed and deposited into his personal bank account for his personal use and benefit. Through this scheme, Eduardo Pierluisi Isern illegally obtained approximately $363,202.28 in HUD funding that was earmarked for PHP operational expenses.
AMAC, through its executives and officials, admitted to illegally diverting a total of $3,712,000 in HUD funding that was earmarked for PHP operational expenses.
The defendants have agreed to the entry of a restitution order in the favor of the United States in the amount of $3,712,000, equivalent to the amount of federal funds illegally obtained through the fraudulent scheme. The agreement to this restitution award is in addition to an agreement that the United States may also recommend a term of imprisonment as punishment for these crimes for Walter Pierluisi Isern and Eduardo Pierluisi Isern, which term of imprisonment shall be decided by the presiding judge at sentencing.
“As today’s convictions demonstrate, those who attempt to defraud the U.S. government will be held accountable,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “The defendants and their company harmed the integrity of a program designed to help underprivileged homeowners. Today’s plea agreement sends a clear message that any time U.S. dollars are misused and regardless of who steals taxpayer moneys, we will work tirelessly to pursue justice.”
“HUD programs are vital to the well-being of many low-income families in our communities and provide critical resources for those who need them the most,” said HUD OIG Special Agent in Charge, Jerome Winkle. “HUD OIG is committed to working with Federal prosecutors and law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who engage in activities that threaten the integrity of HUD programs.”
“Our call to action remains the same and we will investigate every allegation of public corruption to its last consequences,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI for Puerto Rico and the USVI, Joseph González. “I want to make clear we are not on any political side. The FBI is on the American people’s side and on the Constitution’s side. We will continue to work these cases, as we always have.”
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 and face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General investigated this case with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Christine Amy is prosecuting the case.