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FORMER DIRECTOR OF VIRGIN ISLANDS PUBLIC FINANCE AUTHORITY AND OTHERS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY AND BRIBERY

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Alana33
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Three Virgin Islands men were charged in an indictment unsealed today with various offenses based on their participation in a bribery scheme involving over $17 million in construction contracts awarded by the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (VIPFA).

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe of the District of the Virgin Islands, Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan, Puerto Rico, Division, Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt and Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Julito Francis, 53, former Director of Finance and Administration for the VIPFA, is charged with 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, extortion under color of official right, honest services wire fraud and perjury. Gerard Castor, 69, president and owner of Balbo Construction Corporation, is charged with 10 counts of conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud. John Woods, 59, co-principal of an architectural company that worked on behalf of the VIPFA, is charged with three counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion under color of official right.

Francis, Castor and Woods were arrested earlier today and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller of the District of the Virgin Islands. The defendants were released pending an August 12 arraignment.

According to the indictment, Castor provided more than $400,000 in improvements to Francis’ personal residence, and over $10,000 in improvements to Woods’ personal property. In return, Francis and Woods used their official positions to ensure that Balbo Construction was awarded construction contracts by the VIPFA that were worth over $17 million, including a multi-million contract, and supplements thereto, to build the St. Thomas Regional Library. The indictment further alleges that the defendants attempted to conceal the bribery scheme by creating false documents that suggested Francis and Woods intended to pay Castor for the work performed.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division, St. Thomas Resident Agency, the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Laura Fulton and Justin D. Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones of the District of the Virgin Islands. Deputy Chief Tracee Plowell of the Criminal Division’s Office of Enforcement Operations and Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section participated in the investigation when they were assigned to the Public Integrity Section.

Francis et al Indictment
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-director-virgin-islands-public-finance-authority-and-others-charged-conspiracy-and

Here's the VI Source article:
http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2015/08/06/former-pfa-and-vingn-head-julito-francis-arrested-bribery-charges

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Topic starter Posted : August 6, 2015 7:26 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
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Ha, ha! That joke of a library did them in. What a waste.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 7:32 pm
Spartygrad95
(@Spartygrad95)
Trusted Member

My wife and son enjoy the library every Wednesday morning for story time. Not a waste to them.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 8:29 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Sparty, check and see how much that library cost, and how over budget it was. The last time I was there to get an article from the 1960s, they can only access a tiny portion of the archives for some weird reason. People, many of them elderly, without transportation, had to walk up that steep hill in the heat. It infuriates me every time I see that library.

I have been waiting for this day for years.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 8:39 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
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That's not what ms411 was speaking about.
You have to know the history and all the issues/problems that have plagued the library.

Glad wife and son enjoy.

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Topic starter Posted : August 6, 2015 8:41 pm
Spartygrad95
(@Spartygrad95)
Trusted Member

Ok. Sorry. I don't know the history obviously, and I'm not surprised by this news sadly.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 11:13 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Sparty, you or your wife might want to consider Joining Friends of the Library. They need new ideas_, imo.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 11:35 pm
Spartygrad95
(@Spartygrad95)
Trusted Member

We saw they had a meeting about a month ago but ended up,with a sick boy that day.

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Posted : August 6, 2015 11:46 pm
BarefootDays
(@BarefootDays)
Advanced Member

If you want personal enrichment at the expense of the state, why not use the library?

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Posted : August 7, 2015 12:18 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

There will be another meeting. The group needs someone who is not afraid to speak up, and who doesn't know the sacred cows.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 12:21 am
Stxer1
(@Stxer1)
Advanced Member

This sort of news, after living here for 14+ years, is not news. I wasn't surprised or shocked reading this report.

It's business as usual here and unless someone gets into office and cares, we'll be the next Puerto Rico going down the drain.

Our elected politicians not only turn a blind eye, but themselves are the problem. Lots of huffing and puffing but no action to stop such corruption. So many Senators for a tiny place, and no accountability or action to change things.

We'll see another such corrupt story before you know it. It's the VI.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 3:25 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

It is sad that it comes as no surprise.
Even sadder is the length of time it takes to get the indictments and have most get away with a slap on the wrist instead of severe jail time.

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Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2015 8:08 am
OldTart
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Expert

With all due respect and with absolutely no intent of minimizing the actions or the indictments, graft and corruption and the length of time involved in obtaining indictments is in no way unique to the USVI.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 10:18 am
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Alvin Williams and Look Willis were convicted and sentenced to jail time, so there's hope that there will be more convictions for corrupt dealings.

Want to sing "You're Going Down" if I see any of them.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 10:32 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Expert

Oh, look!

It's the same Balbo Construction (Castor) that was involved in the Willis case!

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Posted : August 7, 2015 10:48 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

Exactly.

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Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2015 11:08 am
Spartygrad95
(@Spartygrad95)
Trusted Member

With all due respect and with absolutely no intent of minimizing the actions or the indictments, graft and corruption and the length of time involved in obtaining indictments is in no way unique to the USVI.

Yup. Happens everywhere.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 11:45 am
Alana33
(@alana33)
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ms411
(@ms411)
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Thanks for the link, Alana!

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Posted : August 7, 2015 1:08 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

You're welcome.

Some of the comments on the VI Consortium website to this story are interesting!

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Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2015 3:45 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

Yes, especially the many same posts under screen name Judgment. I am hoping that the Internet will help expose more corruption both here and in U.S. since more people can report and share information. You never know who's reading.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 4:44 pm
speee1dy
(@speee1dy)
Expert

JUDGEMENTS post was interesting to say the least

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Posted : August 7, 2015 4:45 pm
Alana33
(@alana33)
Expert

There are only a couple fish in the net.
There's room for more.

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Topic starter Posted : August 7, 2015 7:10 pm
ms411
(@ms411)
Expert

They're gonna need a bigger net. Too many fish in the sea.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 7:15 pm
CarlHartmann
(@CarlHartmann)
Advanced Member

With all due respect and with absolutely no intent of minimizing the actions or the indictments, graft and corruption and the length of time involved in obtaining indictments is in no way unique to the USVI.

Truer Words were never said. The New York Legislature makes the VI politicians look like rank amateurs. Friends tell me Louisiana.and Chicago are far worse -- which seems hard to believe. It is just hard to avoid knowing everything here in such a small place.

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Posted : August 7, 2015 7:33 pm
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