Once again the attorney general has chosen to publicly make misleading and erroneous statements that only serve to inflate the rift and animosity between the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General and the Virgin Islands Department of Justice. In particular I refer to his statements made on Cable TV 2's "Talk 2" program aired on May 25.
The attorney general's comments confirm my suspicion that his "lack of trust" and opposition to peace officer status for investigators of this office is retaliatory for our participation in the Global Resources Management case. Because the attorney general used false information to attack the integrity of this office, two of my employees, and me personally, I must, for the last time, present the facts and let the public decide who lacks credibility and "trust."
Regarding the GRM case and our involvement, we received information concerning this contract during the late summer-early fall of 2002 and had initiated an investigation, to include the interviewing of V.I. government officials involved in the negotiation and award of the contract.
– The U.S. attorney was conducting his own investigation into the same matter and contacted me indicating an interest in our assistance in the investigation.
– As part of our investigation, we became aware that although the contract was signed in December 2002 by the governor, the Department of Property and Procurement refused to issue a notice to proceed because of concerns over GRM's bonding that by P&P rules and regulations should have been in place before the contract was approved for the governor's signature. Our investigation learned that the Department of Public Works was also concerned about the bonding and that DPW had requested an opinion from the attorney general on the matter.
– On Friday, Jan. 17, 2003, my general counsel and I interviewed the attorney general regarding his knowledge and personal involvement in the GRM contract. Before beginning our interview, I informed the attorney general that we were assisting the U.S. attorney in the GRM investigation. During the course of the interview, at no time did the attorney general mention the personal involvement of the governor's special assistant until I informed him that the individual had been president of GRM and there was the potential of conflict of interest issues. It was at this time that the attorney general stated that the special assistant had called him on numerous occasions trying to expedite the approval process. There was never any discussion about referring our finding in this matter to his office.
– During our discussion of the bonding issue, the attorney general volunteered to provide us with his entire GRM contract file. On Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2003, our investigator picked up the file from the attorney general.
– On Wednesday morning, Jan. 23, 2003, the U.S. attorney informed me by telephone that while he was giving the attorney general a courtesy notification of his intent to file a show cause motion in District Court regarding the GRM contract, the attorney general informed him that he would have to stand in line, because my office was investigating the contract and, in fact, he had turned over his contract file to us. He further told the U.S. attorney that he should contact us to obtain access to the file.
– On Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003, at the District Court hearing, the commissioner of Public Works was wavering in his testimony regarding the pressure being exerted by the governor's special assistant to get the contract approved. Our investigator testified, at the U.S. attorney's request, about the pressure that was exerted on the commissioner.
– On Friday, Jan. 31, 2003, the attorney general subpoenaed our investigative files relating to GRM. Taking into consideration that there was an ongoing criminal investigation into this matter, we felt it unwise to produce such files for a civil proceeding. At my direction, my general counsel contacted the Attorney General's Office seeking to limit production under the subpoena to documentation relative to the investigator's testimony. The assistant attorney general speaking for the attorney general refused to consider our offer out of hand. He wanted everything.
– On Monday, Feb. 3, 2003, at my direction, my general counsel, whom the attorney general had duly appointed a special assistant attorney general, filed a motion to quash the subpoena. This was done in order to protect the integrity of the criminal investigation. The District Court judge agreed and granted the motion and placed both the motion and the general counsel's brief and argument under seal.
The attorney general stated on the "Talk 2" program that we may have violated the law by not referring the GRM investigation to Justice. However, there was nothing to refer. This investigation became a joint federal-local effort when the U.S. attorney called me early in the investigation. Pursuant to that communication, the FBI became a partner and the investigation became a joint inquiry with the FBI as the lead agency maintaining all records, documents and summaries of interviews.
The attorney general started his retaliatory acts immediately after the Feb. 3, 2003, District Court hearing. On Jan. 8, 2003, he had recommended to the governor legislation to grant unlimited peace officer status to investigators for the V.I. Inspector General's Office. However, on Feb. 3, 2003, he withdrew that support. This withdrawal was directed specifically at my investigator who testified in the GRM case. The only thing this investigator did was to fulfill his responsibility as an employee of the government.
Then on March 21, 2003, he [the attorney general] retaliated against my general counsel by creating a scene on St. Croix alleging that the individual was claiming to be a special assistant attorney general before the Territorial Court and falsely arresting an individual. Regarding this incident, the attorney general claimed on the "Talk 2" program that the individual was acting without the authorization or knowledge of Justice. This assertion again is simply not true.
Prior to going to St. Croix, we attempted to contact the attorney general and the chief deputy attorney general, to no avail, regarding our intent to seek an arrest. I authorized my general counsel to proceed to St. Croix and work with the chief of the Criminal Division and the Police Department to effect the arrest. This is what was done in a similar case several months before. In fact, the administrative staff at Justice on St. Croix assisted in the preparation of the affidavit and information. The attorney general has since revoked the special assistant attorney general designation from my general counsel and has lodged a complaint with the V.I. Bar Association alleging that the individual is claiming to be a V.I. attorney by merely signing his correspondence as general counsel.
On the "Talk 2" program, the attorney general claimed that he is opposed to the unlimited peace officer status for the large group of individuals given this authority. He stated that the amended legislation, included with the governor's veto message, proposed establishing a new category of peace officer with limited authority to include this large group of peace officers. Contrary to the attorney general's claim, the amendment proposed granting peace officer status to only three entities: the Lottery Commission (which coincidentally already has peace officer status by virtue of Title 32, Chapter 13, Section 246(j) of the V.I. Code), the University of the Virgin Islands, and the V.I. Inspector General's Office.
The amendment limited peace officer authority only for the investigators of the V.I. Inspector General's Office. No other peace officer's authority throughout the territory was to be limited as claimed by the attorney general. Ironically, the proposed amendment did authorize the V.I. Inspector Gen
eral's Office investigators to carry firearms. I guess the attorney general is not fearful of the "overzealous investigators" using firearms, but is fearful of them making arrests.
At a meeting of the governor's cabinet shortly after the GRM hearing, the attorney general accused me of cooperating with the U.S. attorney in targeting cabinet members for prosecution. It is my position that if any government employee, whether it be the highest official or the lowest employee, engages in illegal and corrupt activities, I will do my best to ensure that justice is served.
In conclusion, I think that the attorney general needs to get over GRM and focus his energies towards protecting the best interests of the government and people of the Virgin Islands.
Steven van Beverhoudt
V.I. Inspector General (for more than 15 years)
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