Anibal Acevedo Vila’s month long corruption trial ended Friday when a jury found the former governor of Puerto Rico not guilty on all counts against him, including conspiracy, money laundering and lying to the FBI, the AP reports. Acevedo was facing up to 20 years in prison, but his relief was palpable as soon as the verdict came in. He began to cry as he made the sign of the cross.
According to the AP, Acevedo’s acquittal is a major blow to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the governor during an election year. Acevedo and 12 associates were charged with participating in an illegal scheme to pay off more than $500,000 in campaign debts. U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said of the trial’s outcome, "The circumstantial evidence allowed for inferences to be made that the jury did not understand as such, but we accept that."
Supporters of the ex-governor cheered outside the courtroom, where Acevedo jumped on a car and said, “I hope Puerto Rico learns from this lesson. You defend the truth no matter what.”