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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesHODGE PAID $172,000; IG STILL SEEKING RECORDS

HODGE PAID $172,000; IG STILL SEEKING RECORDS

The V.I. government already has paid retired Presiding Territorial Court Judge Verne Hodge $172,000 of a $400,000-plus claim for what he says is unused annual and sick leave that he accumulated in 23 years on the bench.
Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull said Monday that the money was dispensed in two installments of $86,000 each. She did not say when the payments were made.
In January, Hodge said he had been paid one installment of about $50,000.
Turnbull is not ready to release any more money.
"The matter has not been resolved fully, so we're still waiting for that to be resolved," she said.
Meanwhile, V.I. Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt said he is still working on a comprehensive report on the matter at the request of Sen. Anne Golden.
"Territorial Court has given me everything that they have," he said. That includes Hodge's detailed records of his comp time – overtime to be compensated with time off rather than money – but not some of his other work records.
Also missing, he said, are records on the lump sum payments made to former Territorial Court Judges Eileen Petersen, now chair of the Casino Control Commission, and Raymond Finch, now chief District Court judge. Documents of those payments could not be located at the court.
Attorney Glenda Lake, court administrator, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Earlier, in response to repeated requests from St. Thomas Source for a breakdown of the amount paid other judges at retirement, she said staff could not find all the information, and she would not release it piecemeal.
Only five other judges retired under the short-lived law that Hodge says allows compensation for unlimited unused leave. Besides Petersen and Finch they are St. Thomas attorney Henry Feuerzeig and two judges now deceased, Antoine Joseph and Irwin Silverlight.
Presumably all the information should be available through the Finance Department since it must approve and issue payment.
Van Beverhoudt said he is waiting for more information from Finance so he can complete his report. He also is waiting for word from the V.I. Justice Department. Attorney General Iver Stridiron initially told Turnbull to make payment to Hodge, but Turnbull asked him to look again at the issue, particularly the question of sick leave payments.
Hodge retired last October.
When the issue of his lump sum compensation became public, he defended the request. He said he was surprised himself by the amount of time he had accumulated, that the personnel division of Finance had calculated the time (from the paperwork the court sumbitted) and that if he were eligible for overtime, the government would owe him $2 million in overtime for the long hours he worked. Although he was not eligible for cash payment for overtime, he did transfer some of his extra hours into comp time, and used that in lieu of annual leave.
He also suggested that reports about the issue were politically motivated and said they should not damage the service he rendered as head of the Territorial Court.
Further, he said he was cognizant of the government's poor financial condition and was willing to receive his lump sum payment in installments.

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The V.I. government already has paid retired Presiding Territorial Court Judge Verne Hodge $172,000 of a $400,000-plus claim for what he says is unused annual and sick leave that he accumulated in 23 years on the bench.
Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull said Monday that the money was dispensed in two installments of $86,000 each. She did not say when the payments were made.
In January, Hodge said he had been paid one installment of about $50,000.
Turnbull is not ready to release any more money.
"The matter has not been resolved fully, so we're still waiting for that to be resolved," she said.
Meanwhile, V.I. Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt said he is still working on a comprehensive report on the matter at the request of Sen. Anne Golden.
"Territorial Court has given me everything that they have," he said. That includes Hodge's detailed records of his comp time - overtime to be compensated with time off rather than money - but not some of his other work records.
Also missing, he said, are records on the lump sum payments made to former Territorial Court Judges Eileen Petersen, now chair of the Casino Control Commission, and Raymond Finch, now chief District Court judge. Documents of those payments could not be located at the court.
Attorney Glenda Lake, court administrator, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Earlier, in response to repeated requests from St. Thomas Source for a breakdown of the amount paid other judges at retirement, she said staff could not find all the information, and she would not release it piecemeal.
Only five other judges retired under the short-lived law that Hodge says allows compensation for unlimited unused leave. Besides Petersen and Finch they are St. Thomas attorney Henry Feuerzeig and two judges now deceased, Antoine Joseph and Irwin Silverlight.
Presumably all the information should be available through the Finance Department since it must approve and issue payment.
Van Beverhoudt said he is waiting for more information from Finance so he can complete his report. He also is waiting for word from the V.I. Justice Department. Attorney General Iver Stridiron initially told Turnbull to make payment to Hodge, but Turnbull asked him to look again at the issue, particularly the question of sick leave payments.
Hodge retired last October.
When the issue of his lump sum compensation became public, he defended the request. He said he was surprised himself by the amount of time he had accumulated, that the personnel division of Finance had calculated the time (from the paperwork the court sumbitted) and that if he were eligible for overtime, the government would owe him $2 million in overtime for the long hours he worked. Although he was not eligible for cash payment for overtime, he did transfer some of his extra hours into comp time, and used that in lieu of annual leave.
He also suggested that reports about the issue were politically motivated and said they should not damage the service he rendered as head of the Territorial Court.
Further, he said he was cognizant of the government's poor financial condition and was willing to receive his lump sum payment in installments.