SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila pleaded not guilty Friday to corruption charges in an alleged campaign finance scheme and was released on his own recognizance.
Hundreds of flag-waving supporters turned out to cheer Acevedo when he arrived at the federal courthouse to be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken before appearing in front of a federal magistrate.
The governor sent a message of gratitude from inside the courthouse to his raucous supporters outside.
"We recognize the presence of the outraged Puerto Ricans here in defense of our people," he said. "We give them thanks and respect."
The governor, charged with 19 counts that carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted, is the first Puerto Rican governor to face federal charges since the island became a semiautonomous U.S. commonwealth in 1952.