The Municipal Elections are only 2 months away, and one of the PUP candidates is learning the hard way that this is a dirty game.
He's Rigoberto Vellos. You probably know him as Mr. Belize, but, last year, he decided to go from pumping iron to playing politics - and offered himself as the PUP's mayoral candidate.
Well, a letter has been unearthed from 9+ years ago, which says that Vellos was terminated from the Social Security Board. In it, there are allegations that just under 700 dollars went missing during his time as a cashier.
It is dated September 19, 2008, and the letter says quote, "Dear Mr. Vellos... Management hereby informs you that you are dismissed from employment... An investigation was conducted by Internal Audit Services on reports of unaccounted funds for manual receipts, issued by you as as cashier. Based on their findings, management has decided to dismiss you for the following reasons:
1 Funds collected were not brought to account, and 2, lack of duty and care in serving the financial document." End quote.
Now that suggests straight up misappropriation, and the letter continues, quote, "The total amount of $690.90, confirmed as the cash shortage based on the manual receipts issued, will be deducted from your entitlements." End quote.
With weeks to go before elecitons, It's a very tough time for this allegation to come up, and the ruling UDP is having a field day with it. This letter made the headline of today issue of the UDP's Guardian Newspaper. We reached out to Vellos for an interview on it, which he agreed to, but later on declined due to legal advice.
He eventually released a recorded statement this evening, and here's how he addressed it:
Rigo Vellos, PUP Mayoral candidate - Corozal Town
"I am not surprised that the UDP has chosen to launch this kind of attacked on me. My theme's campaigned for change and progress in Corozal Town has been strong and we have opened everyone's eyes about the disaster and total failure the UDP has been in our town. They know they're in their last days in office at town hall and in central government, so they are very desperate. I will now addressed the letter circulating and the obscene allegations made by the UDP newspaper."
"Firstly, I am one of hundreds of workers from across the country who were fired by the vindictive UDP government in 2008. The very same year the UDP took office. I was not a permanent staff member at the Social Security office at the time. My firing came as a surprised to me, for I worked diligently during my time there. What the UDP is not telling you is that other cashiers employed at the same time were also let-go. In my view there was no full investigation and we were simply used as scapegoats. I must point out that I never faced any allegation of stealing. The fact that I was not a permanent staff and branded a PUP made it much easier for me to be fired. I also want to point out that the letter provided to me at that time stated clearly that after I was terminated, I was paid my benefits due for my period of work. In a case of wrongdoing as per the labor laws, benefits are not paid to employees."
"I have sought legal advice and the nasty attack launched on me and will be seeking immediate legal recourse against those who have recklessly smeared my character and cause defamation."
As you heard, Vellos says that he is seeking legal advice on what he says is defamation of character.