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(506) 2223-1327           Published Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 159           Email us
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World famous architect Ismael Leyva displays a rendering of the finished project on his iPad while partner José Luis Salinas discusses a construction point with technical manager Ricardo Molina, another architect.

finished project
A.M. Costa Rica photo

Paseo Colón tower becomes a symbol for optimism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new high rise, Torres Paseo Colón, will be the tallest building in San José when workmen finish the remaining upper floors.

Even more than that, the $45 million project is a
Salinas
José Luis Salinas
'...Crisis is opportunity'
beacon in a real estate market that has not been kind to investors and sellers during the last three years.

José Luis Salinas, president of Grupo Imobilario del Parque, says his Paseo Colón project is 80 percent sold. The first phase contains 100 condos starting in the mid $100s and 65 office
spaces. When the second and final phase is finishing is 2013, the structure will bear a striking resemblance to New York City's Times Warner Center. That should not be a surprise.

World famous architect Ismael Leyva is a partner in the project, and he and his New York firm  designed the Times Warner Center.

On the unfinished 18th floor Thursday Salinas pointed out his second active project west of the downtown near the Hotel San José Palacio on the Autopista General Cañas.

Salinas, also an architect, and his development firm were responsible for transforming the south side of Parque la Sabana with high rises. He is a hands-on executive and said he walked the streets of San José looking for the best spot for the current project.

“Crisis is opportunity,” he said of the current real estate market. For others in real estate the optimism of Salinas and the presence of a man like Leyva are very positive signs. Leyva was born in México and has worked in the United States as an architect 30 years ago. His firm is responsible for some three dozen major projects in and around New York City. He has projects in the Middle East and in China now.

The contractor, Constructora Proycon S.A., is
discussion
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Molina and Leyva are framed by the north view from the 18th floor.

supposed to deliver the first phase, the tower fronting Paseo Colón, in July. The upper floors have commanding views of the volcanic mountains north of San José and a distant glimpse to the east of the structure it will eclipse as the city's tallest building when finished, the headquarters of Banco Nacional in the heart of the city.

Others have shown optimism, too. A supermarket will occupy part of the ground floor even though Palî is next door in the former Mas x Menos location.

The condo and office towers fit well with Johnny Araya's goal of repopulating San José. The condos in this project are smaller and suitable for older couples or young families just starting out. Of course there is a swimming pool and a kiddie pool as well as a running track, said Leyva.

The project lacks the multi-floor hotel and world-class restaurants that are found in the Times Warner Center, but the Paseo Colón location is central to most of what the city has to offer. Banco Nacional is the principal financing entity for the project, but Salinas said that other individuals involved in the development work have purchased condos.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 159

Costa Rica Expertise


Sportsmen's Lodge

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.



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Man and woman detained
in murder at Osa hotel


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have made arrests in the case of the murdered U.S. woman at her family's luxury hotel in Matapalo de Puerto Jiménez. As most friends and neighbors suspected, agents say the murder was an inside job.

The victim was Lisa Artz, who was the resident manager of  Casa Tres Palmas on the east shore of the Osa peninsula. She was suffocated July 20.

During the investigation agents said they identified four suspects, including the parents of an employee at the hotel. Agents suspect that the female employee alerted her relatives that Ms. Artz was going to be leaving the country.

Instead, she was found in her separate living quarters with her hands and feet tied with adhesive tape. Tape also was placed across her mouth, which caused the death, agents said.

The two persons, a man and a woman have not yet been identified officially.

Agents conducted a raid Thursday to detain the two persons. In their home they found a computer and other items that will be used as evidence. These include power cords from appliances that had been in the possession of the victim, agents said.

They are seeking the remaining suspects. From the very first some residents suspected that the murder was the result of a dispute over employment. They also suspected that her murderers thought that Ms. Artz had significant amounts of cash because she was going to be traveling.

Casa Tres Palmas is known as the most luxurious property in the area with a commanding view of the point where the waters of the Gulfo Dulce meet those of the Pacific. Ms. Artz' father is George Artz, a successful restaurant owner. The family runs Coconuts on the Beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The sprawling main house features a Tiki-style villa with a palm thatched roof.

Government pays some
of its debt to Caja


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government paid part of its debt to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social Thursday, but it had to borrow to do so.

The government transferred 54 trillion colons or about $108 million to the cash-strapped agency.  The Caja says that the government owes about $200 million more.

The event was a small ceremony.  Fernando Herrero, the minister of Hacienda, said the central government would help the Caja with its balance due from other employers and in fighting fraud and evasion.

President Laura Chinchilla promised to pay a portion of the central government debt to the Caja July 13 after health workers went on strike and demanded money from the government.

Since then there have been revelations of absenteeism and other labor problems at the Caja.

The Caja runs the clinics and hospitals.

The central government had to borrow the money because it is running a deficit and is deeply in debt itself.

The situation affects expats because all residents are now required to enroll with the Caja.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary








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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 159

Prisma dental

Harper and Ms. Chinchilla
Casa Presidencia photo







Prime Minister Stephen Harper was greeted by students with Costa Rican and Canadian flags when he visited Casa Presdiencial Thursday.


Harper's visit results in tax, trade and airline accords
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of Canada will open a consulate in Costa Rica to provide visas to Costa Ricans who want to travel north. That was one of the developments that came Thursday from an official visit by Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister.

At present Costa Ricans have to send their documents to Guatemala to obtain a visa.

Harper also agreed with President Laura Chinchilla that the free trade treaty between the two countries would be renegotiated. That treaty went into effect in 2002, and the subsequent free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries included aspects that Canadians would like to see in their agreement. 

This includes the opening of some former state monopolies.

For its part, Costa Rica would like to see more direct investment from Canada. The renegotiation will begin in November, officials said.

During Harper's visit officials also announced that Canada
would donate $5.2 million toward a $10 million program to increase training for police officers. Harper toured the  Escuela de Policía of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police also will provide some training, said Casa Presidencial.  The police school that Harper visited is in Barrio El Socorro de Santo Domingo in Heredia.

The two countries also approved an open skies agreement in which airlines from either country can operate at whatever frequence in the other.

The countries also entered into an agreement to exchange tax information including tax payments, investigations and prosecutions.

Tourism officials said that last year the country received 120,000 tourists from Canada, an increase of 18,000 over 2009. They said that the open skies agreement would increase tourism.

Costa Rica has had a similar agreement with the United States for 30 years.


Lack of consumption is hurting the U.S. economy
What were they thinking?  The world, including most of us in Costa Rica, are watching as the United States financial system goes into free fall and the government becomes a shambles.  A Tica friend sent me a cartoon of a “flow chart” of American political parties.  In politer language it shows the constituents considering the guys in Washington as dunderheads and the dunderheads regarding their constituents as ignoramuses.

Some 70 percent of the Gross National Product of the United States depends upon how much its people buy and use.  This is so important to the health of the economy that people are not called citizens or people, but rather “consumers.” It is not the success of corporations, which are doing very well, thank you, with huge stashes of cash, or the banks or Wall Street that tell us how well we are doing.  But the government has bailed out the banks and Wall Street and worries itself sick about the corporations and why they are not hiring.

Some say less taxation would solve the problem.  (If that were so, the poor and unemployed would be the happiest people in the country since they pay no taxes.)  Others say give the companies bonuses to hire a worker.  Corporations are like babies.  They want security and predictability, a cushy future before they build or explore or produce.

The economy is going in the tank because people, excuse me, consumers are not consuming. They are not buying the stuff that corporations, or even small businesses are producing because they have no money, and they have no money because many of them have no jobs or work only part-time for very little.  And they are discovering that maybe there is as much satisfaction in being thrifty as there was in having more stuff.  And it is better for the health of the planet.  (Yes, people are taking notice.)

So no matter how many bribes and tax breaks are offered them, businesses are not going to hire people to do nothing.  Heaven forfend. Their purpose is to make profits. They would rather overwork the fewer employees they have.  Other than slaves, Americans who have jobs are the most overworked and under-vacationed people in the world.  (I have already written about how things are a little different in Costa Rica.)

When the housing bubble popped, some people (usually those in real estate) suggested that the government give every threatened home buyer $100,000 to pay off their 
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

overpriced homes.  Families would have a home and the banks would eventually get the money.  Now I think, that was probably wiser than the bail outs that happened.

But there is no concern about the little guys (men and women). The Atlases who are holding up the GDP world are being ignored.  Oh, every now and then over the past months we have heard a small voice from the Oval Office say “Jobs, fellas, we need to concentrate on jobs.”

But no one was listening to this timid voice.  Instead, I heard one new dunderhead in Congress proclaim that the government had no right to give money to the wind or sun power companies and not give it to the oil industry.  He had no idea that the purpose of these grants is to help new and promising companies GET STARTED, to promote research on NEW ideas that might help people, not gift well established oil companies.

Other dunderheads keep declaring that the government should be run like a business.  Businesses are not concerned about the general welfare.  According to the Constitution, the government should be.  Nor does a business rush to help people who suffer nature’s disasters.  And a government cannot declare bankruptcy when it gets into trouble as easily as a business can.  Just ask Donald Trump about that. 

And I recently heard an ignoramus comment that if a family were to behave like the government it would be kicked out of their home, have their electricity turned off, etc. Well, fella, that is the way families HAVE been behaving.  It was called houses too big to support and credit card debt.

Meanwhile, no one is creating jobs, the infrastructure is falling apart, children are not being educated for the future, crime is becoming wanton and closer to everyone’s home, and the costly and fruitless wars on everything and everywhere continue while fear and greed are the biggest consumers.

What are they thinking?

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 159

More reader opinions on tea baggers and corporate tax
Tea baggers are losing
credibility and following

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. McCormick on the Tea Baggers in the U.S.  Bagger leadership are being bought off by the Koch Brothers and other huge national corporations whose only interest is in continuing to make massive profits at the cost of working families.  The Baggers use only sound bites and buzz words to put fear in the hearts of their shrinking flock, touting “government corruption and greed,” all while committing illegal and unethical business practices, themselves.  They foul the environment and commit labor violations, almost with impunity, as they threaten and intimidate their wealthy Republican “friends.”

The Baggers are losing credibility with the public here because the voters are realizing they are being exposed to the true priorities of these corporate hacks and their cronies.  Baggers used to throw huge rallies with hundreds of everyday people showing up.  Now, they can barely draw a handful of people.

They recently held a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, and left without paying their bill of around a half million dollars.

The Bagger leadership is not taking action in the best interest of the working people of the U.S. and are quickly losing the support of those who are no longer willing to act against their own best interest.
Gordon Ottley
Salt Lake City, Utah.


Canadians are Americans,
and they are Gringos, too


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

From a letter: "Many of you expats are not going to like or agree with what I am about to say. But let the Americans remember it is supposed to be their law. (The freedom of speech)."
 
"Americans should clean up their own back alleys. Their economy, job force, way of living are all out of control and headed south for a major crash."
 
I see you are a resident of Canada, hence, you are American.  Anyone who lives in North, Central or South America can be considered American.  So when you say American, you must be talking about Canada since that is where you live.
 
You also say: "In addition to the Gringo invasion."  When you say Gringo, Costa Ricans consider Canadians to be Gringo also, so you must have been planning on joining the Gringo invasion when you thought about moving here.
 
Plus, if you are getting all your opinions from reading information on the Internet, you are getting only part of the picture.  Yes, Costa Rica has many problems, but it also has many benefits.  I have found a home at a reasonable price and if you go local, many items are inexpensive.  If you haven't lived here, you haven't made the effort to find out these things first hand and are making erroneous assumptions.
 
Sandra Krause
Escazú

European drug problem
greater than that in U.S.


Dear A.M. Costa Rica

If our Canadian friend had not been so bitter about not finding dirt cheap accommodations in order to come down to exploit the Ticos he or she might have done some fact checking.

I have cite the United Nations World Drug Report for 2010 (the most recent) - which among other important facts shows that by far Europe - specifically the UK and the Eastern Europe are consuming more drugs per capita (in this case heroin - but the reports on cocaine are similar) - than North America and that Asia is outstripping everyone when it comes to illegal drug usage.  In fact, the trend lines have been showing for a while that less and less drug traffic is heading toward North America and more and more to Europe.  At this point maybe 20 to 25 percent goes to North America with the remaining 75 to 80 percent going to Europe and Asia.

It is a deadly world problem, with much more serious consequences than Pat being stuck at the computer in St. Catherine Ontario.  Even Canada has "safe injection sites" in an attempt to get heroin addicts off the street by giving them clean, free heroin in a clinic setting.  This is a nonjudgmental step in harm reduction that reduces street crime, and the need for current addicts to pay for their habit by recruiting new users.

This is not to say that the U.S. does not have a serious drug problem, and I agree that demand drives supply.  That's why there is a need for a more public health oriented approach to drug abuse — better targeted prevention, more and better treatment, increased funds for research to improve prevention and treatment, etc and less emphasis on criminal justice.  Treatment reduces drug demand. Incarceration at best interrupts drug abuse, but most often exacerbates the problem.

It is rather convoluted logic to blame the U.S.A. for what appears to be Pat's fear of travel.  The Internet is great, but you are not going to find the Tico bargains if don't come down and explore.  I know for a fact that one can find wonderful short-term (monthly) furnished apartment rentals in Quepos with easy access to Manuel Antonio for under $500 a month and you can find the same in San José. In both cases the apartments are clean, have full kitchens, provide free Internet and are in safe, wonderful communities with lots to do and access to great fresh fruit, vegetables and fish! If you rented both simultaneously — that would come to only $33. a day — with two places from which to explore Costa Rica!

 Get your eyes off the virtual world Pat and your bum off the couch. Open your eyes and explore the real world.

Richard Jazwinski
San José and Quepos
and Elmhurst, Queens, New York
Developer has to pay tax
on 79 corporations

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have been coming to Costa Rica for about 12 years, and were it not for the economy working against me, I would now be retired on the 125 acres I bought and started developing there in 2000.   I have already invested over $750,000 on this project, but like many investors, got blindsided by the financial factors around the world that I have no control over, and it has hurt badly, with no lot sales to help with expenses.  All infrastructure done, and segregations, permits, water concessions, all done and in hand, but no buyers.   

Surprisingly, or maybe not so, the article I read in A.M. Costa Rica last week regarding proposals to generate more revenue included a plan to impose an additional tax or surcharge on flights coming into Costa Rica.   How could anyone possibly think that increasing the cost of a person, be it an investor or tourist, coming to the country is going to encourage this?  Flying to Costa Rica is already more expensive than are flights to many other destinations, and on top of the pricing, most of the flights from my area, Detroit, now involves an overnight layover for at least one connecting flight, generally on the return flight. When I started coming to Costa Rica it was at a cost of about $300 round trip, with total trip time under nine hours, with one connecting flight in Atlanta, Miami, or Houston, depending on the airline.  If I took a charter, it was non-stop from Detroit and I arrived in less than 5 hours.   The best rate I can find now is $891 per person with a return trip overnight layover to add to the expense.  Why is tourism down?!?

On top of the cost and hassle of getting a flight, the new tax on corporations means that developers — such as myself, who are not making any money because lots are not selling because of the economy and travel costs, and all the other problems in Costa Rica regarding negative publicity due to crime and bureaucratic problems, and the generally higher costs than elsewhere involved in trying to do business. — still have to pay the existing taxes, water and electric bills, labor to maintain the project, cost of accountants and attorneys and managers, and all the related expenses. 

Now, with corporations already formed for those lots, based on the advice of the Costa Rica attorneys and real estate agents, small developers will be forced to try to figure out how to pay even more, in my case this would be an additional expense on 79 lots of $23,700 a year, with nothing coming in to help pay for this without lots selling.   This will be an impossible amount for me to pay.  Not all developers are rich as Ticos think we all are, and in my case, I have already invested my life savings on this project.  Not much thanks for the boost my investment has given to the local economy, using all Costa Rican labor, materials, and so forth, not to mention the cost of all the permit fee’s, water concession fee’s, and so on, that went to the government.  

This new tax is absolutely a slap in the face, and something I cannot possibly afford to pay.  Therefore, a project that was to have 79 homes with people living there and spending their retirement money on goods and services and existing tax’s, and employing locals to build, with materials from local suppliers, and still paying all the current taxes and fee’s is going to have to be closed.    Sounds like the government’s version of an old Steely Dan song, “Pretzel Logic.”   Talk about killing the goose that is laying the golden egg!!!

Silly me, investing in, and spending my golden years in peaceful, and  beautiful Costa Rica seemed like a good idea years ago.

Jim Day
East Lansing, Michigan
and Libertad, Guanacaste


Most scientists endorse
Human effects on climate


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am a retired scientist who was associated with the NASA Earth Science Program for 28 years. With respect to Mary Jay’s letter in your Aug. 10 issue, I would like to point-out that some studies challenge certain aspects of global climate change concepts, but, collectively, NASA research (internal and sponsored) has fortified global climate change concepts.

Although peer-reviewed articles are a means to communicate the results of scientific research among scientists, it is seldom that a single study is conclusive. Scientists take account of all peer-reviewed articles that are published over time before formulating an opinion about a particular concept. Most scientists who do research in this field endorse the opinion that man’s actions have induced global climate change.

Mary Jay states a statistic (67 percent) without quoting the source. Actually, responses from lay persons vary with the manner in which questions are asked.  For example, you will get a very different response if they are asked about “global warming” versus “global climate change” even though both embody the same concept.

Finally, I warn the reader that they should be wary of any opinion expressed about scientific research when there is an obvious political agenda. To learn how global climate change findings mesh with a political agenda, I suggest reading “Storms of My Grandchildren” by James Hansen, 2009, USBN 978-1-60819-200-7, Bloomsbury. Dr. Hansen is an eminent NASA scientist who has interfaced with politicians at the highest level.

Armond T. Joyce, Ph.D.
Llorente de Tibas




Have a strong opinion?

Send your email to
editor@amcostarica.com

But try to keep it tight on on point.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 159

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

New book gives advice
on emerging new words

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WIRED magazine’s Jargon Watch editor Jonathon Keats attempts to guide readers through the thicket of emerging terms in his book, “Virtual Words.”

Keats, who tracks such terms for WIRED, offers “spam” as one now-familiar example. It was first used as a brand name for canned luncheon meat but has come to mean the unwanted email that clutters our in-boxes.

“The term came about because "spam," being junk e-mail, and Spam luncheon meat many consider to be junk food, there was a resonance between the two," Keats says. "So that people began to call their junk email "spam." Spam was a term that people could rally around and they could rally against this email they didn’t want.”(Editor's note: Span originally came form a Monty Python skit where people shouted “spam” to drown out a speaker.)

Keats is passionate about the evolution of terms. For example, the phrase “Chinese Firewall,” a variation on the Great Wall of China, refers to the heavily-monitored and censored Chinese Internet.

The word "tweet" is more familiar. It has come to mean a short message on the social networking site “Twitter,” as well as sending such a message. The creators of Twitter developed it as a way for people to monitor taxi, police and other dispatches, so they could get an overall picture of a city at any given moment. But soon unanticipated uses developed.

“Twitter became many other things," Keats says. "It became a news feed. It became a form of everyday narcissism. And it became all these different things because Twitter encouraged many other companies to make use of their system and to give Twitter other possible uses, other possible meanings. The term "tweet," though no one quite knows, was initially used by Twitter users and was never trademarked, unlike Twitter. So when we ‘tweet,’ what that message is, what the content of that message is, and what the purpose is, those are completely open ended." 

In other words, the meanings of “tweet” have become “crowd-sourced.”

“Crowdsourcing” is a term combining the word “crowd,” a random collection of people, and the word “outsourcing,” a corporate practice of sending jobs abroad where wages are lower.

"Crowdsourcing" refers to a process where many people are solicited to complete a project. It might be an invitation to pore over online photographs that need to be categorized, or an invitation to solve a technical problem, where the winner is awarded money or a contract.

Keats says Wikipedia is another example of crowdsourcing -- although it's sometimes inaccurate.  

“Wikipedia is a collective encyclopedia that is created online by anybody, anywhere, being able to write an entry on whatever subject, be that George Washington or a given sort of weather pattern. And anybody also is able to edit those entries."    

Keats says familiar scientific or technical words can combine to describe new ideas that then attract further scientific interest, and with it, funding and research. Take “microbiome” for example. It combines “microbe,”  the smallest form of life, and “genome,” which is the totality of genes and genetic information in a living organism.

“There is a theory that we are as much the microbes that we carry, that are involved, for example, in our digestion, as we are for the genes in our own cells," he says. "This an incredibly complex idea which results in a whole new way of doing biology."

Sometimes words combine a scientific insight with an activist agenda. "Anthropocene” is a term used by some geologists to denote the current era, when human activity such as carbon-based pollution, widespread industrial agriculture, and the disposal of billions of metric tons of waste concrete and artificial stone are leaving a physical record on the planet.

“There is this sense that calling attention to that and therefore perhaps making us think about having a bit less of an impact on the environment would be a good thing, and that science not only observes the world as it currently is, but can have a proactive role and influence us to live in a way that will be for the benefit of the world.”

Several of the terms in “Virtual Words” are fantasies until some future date.

There is “exopolitics,” which refers to foreign affairs with aliens. 

"In vitro meat,” which refers to steaks and chops grown from artificially cultured muscle cells, is closer to reality.

Just where science and technology - both real and imagined - will take the world is anyone’s guess. But wherever that is, new words will always be coined to describe it.


Virginia woman admits
she faked her kidnapping


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Virginia woman has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to faking her own kidnapping in Guatemala to extort money from her family in the United States.

U.S. prosecutors say 34 year old Sheena Flores was living in Guatemala with a child last year when she told her family she had been abducted and would be killed if a ransom was not paid.

The family wired $3,000 before learning the kidnapping was a hoax.

Ms. Flores faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in October.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 159

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin America news
La Garita man welcomed
home with bullets, death


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 21-year-old man with the last name of Abarca died in La Garita Wednesday shortly after returning to the country, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

A friend had picked him up at Juan Santamaria airport and took him to the home in La Garita where he died, agents said.  At least three men arrived and engaged him in a discussion that ended in gun play, agents said.

Agents did not say that there had been an arrest, although that was reported Wednesday night by local police.


Two invasions of homes
reported in Central Valley


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There were home invasions in Curridabat and in Desamparados Wednesday and early Thursday.

In Curridabat, five men jumped a homeowner about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday as he took out the garbage and forced their way into the home. They tied up those present and sacked the home.

A relative arrived, saw what was going on and blocked the path of the robbers car with his own vehicle. That drew fire from one of the crooks and alerted neighbors to call police, said agents.

In Desamparados three men entered a home about 1 a.m. Thursday tied up those there and took up to 5 million colons, about $10,000. Agents said that the robbers were believed to be minors.


California pair sentenced
in visa fraud scheme


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A former supervisor with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and his son have been sentenced today to 60 months and 48 months, respectively, on federal corruption charges.

Fernando Jacobs, 72, of Upland, and Patrick Jacobs, 44, of Ontario, were sentenced by U. S. District Judge George H. King.  Judge King also ordered Fernando Jacobs to pay a $30,000 fine. Fernando Jacobs was remanded into custody to begin serving his prison sentence immediately.  Patrick Jacobs has been in custody since his arrest in December 2009.

Fernando Jacobs, who was a supervisory immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and his son were convicted by a jury of conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud.  Additionally, Fernando Jacobs was also convicted of visa fraud.

The evidence presented during the two-week trial in U. S. District Court in April showed that Fernando Jacobs accepted bribes in exchange for helping aliens seeking status in the United States and that his son acted as a middleman brokering deals with the aliens.

The evidence showed that Fernando Jacobs and his son engaged in a scheme to defraud U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of Fernando Jacobs’ honest services by using Fernando Jacobs’ authority and official position to enrich themselves by receiving payments in return for expediting processing of immigration case files, obtaining and providing immigration information from Department of Homeland Security immigration databases, and obtaining and providing I-551 stamps that authorize aliens to travel to and from the United States. As part of the scheme, Fernando Jacobs fraudulently procured passport stamps for two Mexican nationals that allowed them to travel to and from the United States.       

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Judge King said that Fernando Jacobs sold out his office for money and that he did so “because he wanted money and he was greedy.”      







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