Honduras former First Lady, Rosa Elena Bonilla has been sentenced to 58 years in prison for misusing government funds totalling $770,000.
Bonilla was the first lady from 2010-14. Her husband, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, was elected following a military coup d’état that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Since early last year, Bonilla, 52, has been incarcerated. Crimes she was accused of stem from her time in office when she misappropriated funds and committed fraud. She was found guilty in September and sentenced last week.
While her husband was president, Bonilla misused the money which came from donations and public funds supposed to be used for social programmes.
Instead, Bonilla used the money for personal expenses. She paid for medical treatment, jewellery, school tuition and property with the funds. Her lawyers maintain that she‘s innocent and said an appeal would be filed.
Saul Escobar, a close associate of Bonilla‘s, was also found guilty. Escobar was charged with fraud and embezzlement of public funds and sentenced to 48 years in prison.
But under Honduran law they will probably serve up to 30 years. Bonilla‘s brother-in-law, Mauricio Mora was also charged with crimes and was acquitted.
Bonilla is not the first member of her family to be convicted of a serious crime. Her stepson, Fabio Lobo, pled guilty to conspiring to import cocaine to the United States. He received a 24-year prison sentence.