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Ombudsman investigator, cousin lawyer nabbed for extortion

MANILA-- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested a graft investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman and his lawyer cousin whom the bureau arrested in an entrapment operation in Pangasinan for trying to extort PHP3 million from Pangasinan Representative Amado Espino Jr. and his son, Bugallon town Mayor Jumell Anthony Espino in exchange for the dismissal of cases against the public officials.

NBI Director Dante Gierran identified the suspects as Leonardo Nicolas, who worked as Ombudsman Senior Graft Investigator and his cousin, lawyer Isagani Nicolas who is a labor arbiter of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

The two suspects, who were presented to media on Saturday, were arrested by the NBI-Special Task Force (STF) during an entrapment operation Friday afternoon at a hotel in Lingayen, Pangasinan, the NBI director said.

Gierran said the arrest was made after Amado sought assistance from the NBI.

The NBI Director said last May Leonardo has been calling the provincial legal officer and provincial accountant demanding money for the dismissal of cases filed against the Espinos before the Office of the Ombudsman.

When Jumel met with Leonardo, the suspect told him the case may be settled if PHP1,350,000 will be paid but was turned down.

Another meeting was held on June 14 between Isagani and Pangasinan Provincial Accountant Arturo Soriano.

During the meeting, a total of PHP3 million was being demanded from the Congressman for the dismissal of three cases pending before the Ombudsman.

The legislator sought NBI help after Soriano received a call last June 19 from Leonardo about the threat which would lead to the dismissal from service of the Espinos.

The NBI officials said that both suspects face charges of direct bribery and robbery extortion under Article 210 and Article 293, respectively, of the Revised Penal Code; and violation of Section 7(d) in relation to Section 11 of Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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