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HomeNewsArchives'BE A HERO' SPOTS SPUR SOME WHISTLE-BLOWING

'BE A HERO' SPOTS SPUR SOME WHISTLE-BLOWING

Oct. 26, 2001 – "Be a hero," advises the television commercial for the V.I. Fraud and Corruption Task Force, urging residents to report what they know about wrongdoing within the government.
Since the TV spot and its radio version began airing about two weeks ago, calls to report fraud and corruption have started to come in. "We have some leads, and some have potential," V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt said.
If you think you'll get paid for your information, though, think again. The Task Force does not have a reward fund. "People should feel good doing something positive for helping the community," is the way van Beverhoudt sees it.
He acknowledges it will be an uphill battle to get people to report what they see and know. "People don't want to get involved, and they think nothing will get done anyhow," he said.
However, van Beverhoudt pointed to an early, high-profile Task Force success: In March 2000, former Gov. Roy L. Schneider paid about $50,000 in restitution after the V.I. Justice Department agreed to dismiss charges against him and three of his former aides. They faced 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records stemming from incidents involving the expenditure of public funds following Hurricane Marilyn.
"The precedent was set," van Beverhoudt said.
The task force, formed early in 2000 as a joint initiative of the Inspector General's Office and the Justice Department, initially had its own staff attorney, funded with a grant from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission. The attorney left in February, but a replacement recently arrived, van Beverhoudt said. And, he said, the task force has a staff member answering the hot line people can call with information. Additionally, other staff from his office and the Justice Department are available to work on cases.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron did not return telephone calls requesting comment.
The hotline number to call to report government fraud and corruption is 774-3388.

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Oct. 26, 2001 - "Be a hero," advises the television commercial for the V.I. Fraud and Corruption Task Force, urging residents to report what they know about wrongdoing within the government.
Since the TV spot and its radio version began airing about two weeks ago, calls to report fraud and corruption have started to come in. "We have some leads, and some have potential," V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt said.
If you think you'll get paid for your information, though, think again. The Task Force does not have a reward fund. "People should feel good doing something positive for helping the community," is the way van Beverhoudt sees it.
He acknowledges it will be an uphill battle to get people to report what they see and know. "People don't want to get involved, and they think nothing will get done anyhow," he said.
However, van Beverhoudt pointed to an early, high-profile Task Force success: In March 2000, former Gov. Roy L. Schneider paid about $50,000 in restitution after the V.I. Justice Department agreed to dismiss charges against him and three of his former aides. They faced 14 counts of fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records stemming from incidents involving the expenditure of public funds following Hurricane Marilyn.
"The precedent was set," van Beverhoudt said.
The task force, formed early in 2000 as a joint initiative of the Inspector General's Office and the Justice Department, initially had its own staff attorney, funded with a grant from the Law Enforcement Planning Commission. The attorney left in February, but a replacement recently arrived, van Beverhoudt said. And, he said, the task force has a staff member answering the hot line people can call with information. Additionally, other staff from his office and the Justice Department are available to work on cases.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron did not return telephone calls requesting comment.
The hotline number to call to report government fraud and corruption is 774-3388.