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Questions remain following arrest of Holyoke city councilor

Many questions surround the arrest of a Holyoke city councilor and national guard member who faces child pornography and fugitive from justice charges.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Many questions surround the arrest of a Holyoke city councilor and national guard member who faces child pornography and fugitive from justice charges.

Holyoke Ward 2 City Councilor Wilmer Puello-Mota was arrested in western Massachusetts after being wanted in Rhode Island on bail violation charges, with the original charge being child pornography. These charges took place while he was running for city council and during his term.

Puello-Mota regularly attended city council meetings until he was arrested last week, charged with being a fugitive of justice. Western Mass News obtained the court documents for the multiple charges he’s facing and we compared them to the timeline of his election.

In May 2020, Puello-Mota called about a stolen gun at a hotel in Warwick, RI. It was there police were introduced to him and a 17 year old girl.

In September 2020, he was charged with possession of child pornography. Court documents stated that Puello-Mota would exchange money for explicit videos and photos of the 17-year-old girl. He was let out on a $10,000 bail for those charges...

In November 2021, he was elected to a first term on the Holyoke city council, representing Ward 2. He ran unopposed and in January of this year, he was sworn in as a city councilor.

In that same month, Puello-Mota allegedly submitted a document for a court diversion program. As a national guard member, he submitted for this program to keep his status while facing the child pornography charges, but court documents stated he forged his supervisor’s signature and had another person pretend to be his supervisor on the phone with a judge.

Fast forward to this month, an investigation determined the document to be fraudulent and a Rhode Island arrest warrant was filed for a bail violation for attempted forgery of the document. He was then arrested at Barnes Air National Guard Base on fugitive of justice charges.

We reached out to many city officials, who did not want to be on camera. However, they confirmed that the only things needed to run for city council is to be a registered voter and have a petition with at least 50 signatures.

There is no official investigation into any past criminal history as it’s up to the voters to decide if the person is fit for office. Puello-Mota did not have a challenger.

We also checked in with other city councilors to see if there would be any efforts to remove Puello-Mota from his position. They said there is no policy put in place unless a city councilor is convicted of a felony.

We did receive a statement from Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia, which stated:

“We are aware of the allegations. And we have faith in the justice system. I suggest we let the authorities do their jobs and that we refrain from judgment.”