‘Key Players’ in 1994 Puerto Rican AIDS Funding Theft Case Appeal Indictment
Jorge Garib, the former medical director of the now-defunct San Juan AIDS Institute, and institute legal adviser Luis Dubon Otero, accused of conspiring to steal $2.2 million in U.S. funds earmarked for AIDS patients, appealed their case in federal appeals court on Tuesday. The Associated Press reports that Garib and Dubon were convicted of diverting $779,000 from the private institute for personal use and political campaigns between 1988 and 1994. Before its demise in 1994, the institute had received donations totaling $15 million from HHS, the former Ryan White Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Attorneys for Garib and Dubon argued before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that prosecutors had "wrongly expanded a federal grand jury indictment" to include theft of U.S. government money in addition to theft of institute funds. Dubon's lawyer Frederick Hafetz argued that both men had approval for all the money they spent, saying, "Our claim is that the money was owned by (the institute) and (the institute) consented to the use of the funds, and therefore there was no theft. Everything they had to do for the AIDS patients was done and done well. There was no shortchanging of any AIDS patients." Scott Srebnick, attorney for Garib, argued that as federal funding was not received until June 1990, the jury erred in focusing on Garib's actions in 1988. But Justice Department appellate lawyer Richard Friedman countered that the conspiracy to steal extended from 1988 to 1994 and therefore the precise timing of funding was irrelevant. In the previous trial, Dubon and Garib were sentenced to five years in prison, but both have been free on bond pending the outcome of their appeals (Lavoie, Associated Press, 7/31).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.