U.S. Virgin Islands senator arrested, charged with bribery-related crimes in DOJ scandal
U.S. Virgin Islands Senator Alvin Williams has been arrested and accused of bribery, among other alleged crimes, the Associated Press reports.
Williams, 34, was accused “of generating more than $1 million through illegal activities, including demanding bribes in exchange for favorable legislation.”
He, his chief of staff Kim Blackett and another staff member, Garry Sprauve, were charged Thursday, according to the USVI U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe’s office.
“The senator is accused of giving the island’s public works commissioner $10,000 in cash in September 2009 to grant future work to a company that was of interest to him,” the AP reported. “Williams also is alleged to have supported legislation for a housing project in St. Thomas that would benefit that company. Authorities say he also demanded a bribe from developers of the housing project from February 2007 to November 2011.”
“Other allegations against the senator include demanding and receiving a $10,000 bribe in the form of campaign contributions from the developers of a wind turbine project in exchange for favorable legislation,” the AP added. “Authorities said Williams later solicited a further $25,000 bribe in campaign contributions from the same developer. The indictment further alleges Williams submitted false campaign disclosure reports. And it charges the three-term senator offered to increase the salaries of legislative staffers only if they agreed to give him a portion of that increase as cash.”
The arrest is part of a bigger corruption case that the Department of Justice has been stalling on for years, as The Daily Caller has reported. (RELATED: Virgin Islands governor’s chief of staff resigns)
An early 2012 investigation by TheDC unearthed allegations that USVI Gov. John de Jongh accepted part of at least $20 million in cash bribes in exchange for facilitating the sale of a telecommunications company to a politically embattled U.S. telecommunications cooperative.
According to the DOJ source – who served on a team put in place to arrest finance executives close to that telecommunications deal – de Jongh accepted a portion of at least $20 million in cash bribes that floated throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands government.
The bribes, according to the source, were for de Jongh, Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer and other Virgin Islands legislators — all aimed at quashing local concerns about financial irregularities identified on the books of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Cooperative.
The DOJ, the source said, never acted on the sealed indictments related to a years-long criminal scheme involving bank fraud and other financial crimes because two prosecutors on a team of more than 25 also accepted bribes. Five other prosecutors, the source said, were compromised in some other unspecified way.
In May 2012, the source told TheDC arrest teams were back in place and ready to take down all the government officials and finance executives involved in this matter. The source said USVI senators will be the “first” to be taken in into custody by law enforcement. After the senators are taken in, the source said it’s then “the administrative staff and the governor.”
After that, the source said, the final step is law enforcement taking in people from the different financial institutions that were involved in the scandal.
At the time, the source said the arrest teams were waiting for the “green light” from Attorney General Eric Holder. “There’s nothing that hasn’t been done that would prevent a nod of confidence,” the source said then. “It’s all up to him now to say, ‘yes, go ahead.’”
Reached Thursday evening, TheDC’s DOJ source said that Holder and President Barack Obama decided to wait until after the election to take this case down, and that this is just the beginning. The source said Holder and Obama held up these arrests and prosecutions until after the election because they feared political embarrassment for failure on an issue that’s sensitive to the Democratic base: financial crime and Wall Street corruption.
This move – apparently by Holder – comes as talk surrounds his potential resignation before a second Obama White House term. “That’s something that I’m in the process now of trying to determine,” Holder told University of Baltimore law school students about the possibility of his return in Obama’s second term. “I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?”
“[I have to] really ask myself the question about, do I think there are things that I still want to do? Do I have gas left in the tank? It’s been an interesting and tough four years, so I really just don’t know,” Holder added.
TheDC’s source said Holder has been aware of every detail on every part of this scandal from the beginning.
*This article was updated after publication.