A bodyguard protecting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John de Jongh assaulted a Daily Caller reporter outside Reagan National Airport early Wednesday evening. De Jongh arrived in Washington, D.C. unexpectedly for a visit that did not appear on his public schedule and may be related to an intensifying bribery scandal involving several Virgin Islands elected officials.
A Daily Caller investigation in February unearthed allegations that de Jongh accepted bribes in exchange for facilitating the sale of a telecommunications company to a politically embattled U.S. telecom cooperative.
According to TheDC’s source within U.S. Justice Department, who served on a team put in place to arrest finance executives close to that telecommunications deal, de Jongh accepted part of at least $20 million in cash bribes that floated throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) government.
As De Jongh exited a terminal concourse past airport security and climbed on an escalator Wednesday, TheDC called out his name several times. On the escalator, the security guard physically blocked the governor from this reporter, who identified himself as a Daily Caller staffer.
“You guys got to keep a distance. Keep your distance,” the bodyguard said.
De Jongh and his bodyguard kept walking outside the airport and walked toward a waiting black Chevy Suburban SUV.
Still following, TheDC asked the embattled U.S. Virgin Islands chief executive, “Why are you in Washington when it’s not on your official schedule?”
Now on the sidewalk outside Reagan National Airport, de Jongh’s bodyguard got physical when TheDC asked the question a second time.
The bodyguard grabbed this reporter’s arm, twisted it and physically restrained him.
“Why are you touching me?” this reported asked.
“Because I’m his security,” the bodyguard answered. “You don’t get close to the governor.”
Since the physical altercation the bodyguard initiated, de Jongh Communications Director Jean Greaux has not responded to multiple requests for comment about why de Jongh is in Washington unexpectedly, or if he plans to meet Attorney General Eric Holder or some other person at the Department of Justice.
On Tuesday, The Daily Caller reported that Holder was again holding up law enforcement teams ready to arrest USVI senators, alleged financial criminals, members of de Jongh’s administration and potentially de Jongh himself over their connection to a scheme involving financial crimes and bribery.
According to TheDC’s DOJ source, on Tuesday, those teams were “waiting” for Holder to give the green light for “execution” of arrest warrants. “Everything is in place now,” the source said. “We’re just waiting for them to say ‘execute.’”
De Jongh’s trip appears to be related to that scandal. Greaux, however, would not confirm that de Jongh was heading to the DOJ. And DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler wouldn’t answer when asked if de Jongh was on his way to meet with Holder or another DOJ official.
The bribes at the center of the scandal, according to the source, were for de Jongh, Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer and sitting USVI legislators. Their purpose was to quash local concerns about financial irregularities identified on the books of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Cooperative.
Holder’s Justice Department, the source said, never acted on 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, accepted bribes. Five other prosecutors, the source said, were compromised in another unspecified way.
The source said, however, that since TheDC broke the story the investigation got back on track due to political pressure the Obama administration faced from both adversaries and supporters, many of whom receive lucrative tax breaks from the Virgin Islands government.
De Jongh’s unexpected trip to Washington marks at least his second such unannounced visit in recent weeks.
De Jongh came to Washington last week for six days for what his spokesman, after repeated questioning, said was his nephew’s graduation from Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins is in Baltimore, and the much larger Baltimore-Washington International Airport is at least 30 miles closer to the campus than Reagan National Airport.
De Jongh’s wife, USVI first lady Cecile de Jongh, joined him in Washington halfway through last week.
That unexpected trip sparked widespread rumors in the Virgin Islands that de Jongh was “arrested” while in Washington. Greaux denied those allegations.
The bodyguard’s use of physical force does not constitute Gov. de Jongh’s first attack against TheDC for closely following this story. In February, he accused TheDC of being racially motivated in its reporting.
“It is a sad, sad day in the life of our territory when gossip and slander wash away reason and truth and fairness and common sense,” de Jongh said in a February statement. “It is a sad day in our nation when reckless allegations can be published without substance or verification as part of the smearing of our President [Barack Obama] or his Attorney General [Eric Holder]. This kind of broad brush stereotyping was shameful in the days of Jim Crow, and it is more so today.”
Videography by Holly Bensur