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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 18, 2024


Prosecution of recent government fraud cases, including one against a former governor, haven’t come about by chance. They are the work of a special task force gunning for public employees bilking the system.
While the Government Fraud and Corruption Task Force has been operating in relative anonymity since its inception last January, this week will see the unveiling of a public media campaign alerting Virgin Islanders of ways to report wrongdoers. The task force is a joint effort between the V.I. Justice Department and the V.I. Inspector General's Office and since last year has been funded by a $222,000 grant from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission, said Steven Van Beverhoudt, V.I. inspector general.
Van Beverhoudt said his office’s fiscal year 2001 budget is funded for two additional inspector positions. Additionally, the V.I. Justice Department is devoting a prosecutor, the former attorney general for the Marshall Islands, to fraud-busting.
The task force’s executive committee decides what cases to pursue, often generated from audit investigations already conducted by the IG’s office. By combining the efforts of the two agencies in a task force, Justice's prosecutors don’t have to carry out additional investigations.
"We’ve had a history of issuing reports that had potentially fraudulent implications and nothing was done about it," Van Beverhoudt said. "And this attorney general (Iver Stridiron) picked up on it."
In addition to prosecuting former Gov. Roy Schneider earlier this year for misuse of government funds following Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, which ended in Schneider reimbursing the government, the task force has gone after embezzlers in Justice’s own Paternity and Child Support Division, a Finance Department employee for allegedly pilfering computers and a cop from New York who investigators say was posing as an attorney.
And the investigations, both civil and criminal, will continue, Van Beverhoudt said, including the referral of a recent audit investigation of improprieties with overtime payments in the Health Department.
"We are active. We have cases ongoing," Van Beverhoudt said. "We just started this in January so we’re going through some growing pains and some of these cases take a long time to develop."

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