Virgin Islands senator accused of demanding bribes


Associated Press

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 8 at 6:35 PM

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — A U.S. Virgin Islands senator was accused Thursday of generating more than $1 million through illegal activities, including demanding bribes in exchange for favorable legislation.

Sen. Alvin Williams Jr., 34, was charged along with his chief of staff, Kim Blackett, 29, and another unidentified staff member, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Williams faces charges of operating and participating in a criminal enterprise engaged in illegal activities including bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Neither Williams nor Blackett returned messages seeking their comment on the grand jury indictment, which came a year after U.S. federal agents raided Williams' 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.

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. 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.

Williams also is accused of seeking online degrees from the University of Phoenix with help from a legislative staffer who is accused of falsely submitting documents. Williams and Blackett also are charged with using public funds for pursuing the online degree.

The senator's website states that he has an associate of arts degree in general studies from the University of Phoenix.

His family owns one of the island's largest heavy equipment retail businesses, which has been awarded contracts by the U.S. and local government, according to his website.