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Attorney Who Conducted Study for City Hall is under Investigation for Plagiarism
• Report focused on illegally occupied properties on the MLZ
• City Hall paid $8000 for study  

By Oliver Pérez

Nicoya's City Hall is investigating an attorney, whose last name is Bravo and who was hired by them last year, in order to determine if he plagiarized a report issued by the National Comptroller's Office (Contraloría General de la República) in regards to the Maritime Land Zone (MLZ), which he presented as his own work.

On October 10th, the City Hall launched an investigation against attorney Róger Bravo Álvarez, representative of the GCI Engineering Corporation, who was hired in March 2010 to conduct a project on the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MLZ), receiving 4 million colones ($8000) for a job that, in City Hall's opinion, was not properly performed.

City Hall hired Bravo's company in March 2010 so that, as a legal professional, he would prepare an inventory of all properties that are illegally occupying the MTZ.

However, in its audit report, City Hall states that it feels "offended" since the contract was not fulfilled by Bravo's corporation. According to the City Hall, in Bravo's report the common "copy-paste" technique was used, in which parts were taken from a report issued by the National Comptroller's Office in 2004.

Based on the investigation, it appears that the pictures presented in Bravo's report were taken from the Comptroller's Office report. In addition, Bravo makes absolutely no reference to cadastral nullity, which was the main reason for which his services were hired.

In turn, Roger Bravo Álvarez, told the VON "The report I submitted to Nicoya's City Hall was reviewed by the Attorney General's Office and they gave it their approval." Bravo added that those who work at the City Hall are unable to issue reliable technical criteria, as they are not professionals with an academic background.

"The Council has made several decisions based on the same report I issued recommendations. So to have someone come now and state that I plagiarized a document, I can say that it is absolutely false. We must keep in mind that when one submits a report, there are guidelines that establish that quotations must be included when citing a reference on a report. So they will have to prove that I plagiarized my work, and they will have to do so in Court", declared Bravo, the attorney hired by the town hall.

In regards to this issue, the mayor's office requested authorization from the Town Council to file criminal charges before Nicoya's Prosecutor's Office, but the Council denied his request.

Instead, council members chose to conduct the investigation themselves, forming a governing body made up of Ana Lizeth Espinoza, Rodolfo Orozco and Carlos Medina, the same councilmen that have had disputes since May with Mayor Marcos Jimenez as a result of changing the meeting's schedule to 5 p.m. since they are teachers and were unable to attend the sessions that were originally held at 2 p.m.

Bravo, whom these councilmen and councilwoman are now investigating, is the same attorney that has represented them against Jimenez at the Administrative Litigation Court (Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo).


Timeline of Events

2004: The Maritime Land Zone report done by the National Comptroller's Office is released.

March 2010: The City Hall opens the bidding process to hire an attorney's professional services in order to conduct a study of Cadastral Nullity for the Maritime Land Zone; a company called GCI wins the bid for $8000.

August 2010: Through GCI, Bravo presents the report.

June 2010: The City Hall Internal Audit Department questions the way in which the hiring process was conducted.

October 2011: Mayor Marcos Jimenez requests that the Town Council investigate Bravo for alleged fraud; however, the Town Council denies the request and instead decides to form a governing body in order to investigate Bravo. The councilmen in charge of the investigation are the same who hired Bravo's services amidst a dispute with the Mayor over the Council meetings' schedule.

Doubts in Regards to Hiring Process
On June 10th, 2010 and in regards to this same case, the Municipal Internal Audit Department started its own inquiries as to how the hiring process was conducted, finding irregularities from the very first day of March 2010 in which the investigation of the MLZ was put out for bid. The department's own investigation shows that only service providers from San Jose were invited to participate in the process.

The audit also questions the way in which those who were invited learned about the Direct Contracting process that was opened in order to hire an attorney's professional services.

The Mayor has now decided to file a criminal complaint against attorney Bravo, while the Town Council continues to investigate the case.


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