Sunday, November 19, 2006

TV Martí Executive Indicted

Miami Herald - Posted on Sat, Nov. 18, 2006

TV Martí executive indicted
A senior TV Martí executive was accused of receiving $100,000 from a company that does business with the federally financed broadcaster.

A federal grand jury indicted a senior TV Martí executive, accusing him of taking more than $100,000 in kickbacks from a company that was doing business with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees the Martí operation, prosecutors said Friday.

Jose M. Miranda, nicknamed ''Chema,'' received the money from Perfect Image Film and Video Productions, a vendor that was doing business with TV Martí, according to a federal statement.

''Miranda was accepting these monies during the same time that he approved requisitions and invoices for services rendered by Perfect Image to TV Martí,'' U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said.

Miranda said in Spanish Friday night ``I haven't even talked to my lawyer. I can't say anything.''

Miranda is also charged with ``making false representations to the U.S. government, in that he falsely reported no outside income in financial disclosure reports.''

OCB Director Pedro Roig, who has run the radio and television operation since, could not comment.

Jorge de Cardenas, a marketing consultant for OCB, said Friday night Roig ``discovered [the scheme] and an investigation began. There are other people involved.''

The four-count indictment alleges Miranda falsified financial disclosure forms in 2002, 2003, and 2004. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison per count.

''In each of these financial disclosure reports, the defendant represented that he had no sources of income other than his United States government salary, when in fact he had received income from Perfect Image during those years,'' prosecutors said.

Joe O'Connell, a spokesman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees OCB, said Miranda had been placed on administrative leave and faced suspension without pay until the case is resolved.

Miranda earns $103,000 yearly at OCB, federal records show.

O'Connell described Miranda as a ''high ranking'' official at OCB who had worked there since 1992, and said OCB ''developed information about Miranda's activities'' in 2005 and referred the matter to the board that oversees the Martí operation. The board alerted the Inspector General, who turned the matter over to the Justice Department, O'Connell said.

According to federal records obtained earlier this year by The Miami Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request, the OCB paid at least $239,000 to Perfect Image from 2001 to 2006.

Perfect Image is among dozens of companies that have been contracted by the OCB over the past few years to provide services ranging from production to journalism content, federal records obtained show.

Since 2001, OCB has paid at least $3.3 million to outside vendors.

Corporate records show Perfect Image Video Production is located in the Doral area and names Antonio Perez as its president. Perez could not be reached Friday night.

Herminio San Roman, who ran OCB from 1997 to 2001, said he did not know of the alleged scheme.

''If there's much more corruption inside Radio and TV Martí, they should go after everyone,'' San Roman said. ``The mission [at TV Martí] is a pure mission, providing information to an enslaved country. But within that mission you have people. And once you have people, you have good people, and people who turn out not to be so good.''

Herald staff writers Alfonso Chardy and Dani McClain contributed to this report.

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