The trial of two St. Thomas women charged in connection with the embezzlement of $1.7 million from Little Switzerland has been delayed again.
Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte said the latest delay came at the request of Territorial Court Judge Ishmael Meyers.
"Judge Meyers asked for the delay to allow him to clear the calendar of cases involving persons that are jailed at the Bureau of Corrections before empaneling a jury to hear the embezzlement case," Sprotte said.
The case has been dangling since 1998 when the two defendants were arrested on charges that Lorrain Quetel embezzled money from Little Switzerland and laundered it through Lydia Magras' Bon Voyage Travel Agency.
Quetel was employed at Little Switzerland where she maintained an account at Scotia Bank for credit card transactions until the funds could be transferred to the store's Chase Manhattan Bank account.
Prosecutors allege that Quetel wrote more than 20 checks totaling $1.3 million from Little Switzerland to Bon Voyage Travel. The checks ranged from $25,000 to $90,000. Quetel, a signatory on the travel agency's account, later wrote and signed checks to herself. Quetel also allegedly wrote checks to herself totaling $395,000 from the Little Switzerland account, which she deposited directly into accounts at Citibank and Banco Popular that she jointly held with her husband.
The funds were discovered missing from Little Switzerland following a year-end audit, according to statements made to investigators by principals of L.S. Holding Co.
Meyers has become the third judge to preside over the case. It was initially assigned to Judge Soraya Diase, who recused herself when the defense alleged a business relationship between Diase's husband, Gordon Coffelt, and Bon Voyage Travel Agency. Judge Ive Arlington Swan was assigned to the case but later recused himself after the civil case brought by Little Switzerland against the two women was also assigned to him.
Meyers has been reviewing the case in preparation for trial, which court sources say could take up to 10 days to present. Prosecutors maintain that they "are ready to go to trial with the case tomorrow." Sprotte told the Source, "An April trial date is expected."