Aug. 25, 2004 – Dr. Lucien A. Moolenaar II took the witness stand in his own defense Wednesday in District Court, testifying that he was unaware of $102,497.85 in salary overpayments he received over the course of more than five years.
The former deputy Health commissioner is charged with conversion of government funds, grand larceny and making false statements to government officials.
Moolenaar's testimony echoed that of his wife, Amy Moron-Moolenaar, who was called to the stand immediately before him. Moolenaar stated — as had his wife — that she was handling his finances between 1995 and 2000, when he received a series of overpayments of $1,626.85 from the Finance Department. He claimed that he was unaware of the overpayments, amounting to $102,497.85, until they were brought to his attention by authorities.
Armando Bonilla, prosecuting the case for the U.S. Department of Justice, charged in his opening arguments on Tuesday that Moolenaar had been aware of the overpayments and had lied to investigators during an interview when he said he knew nothing of them. (See "Prosecution Rests in First Day of Moolenaar Trial".)
Bonilla said mandatory monthly reports that Moolenaar, a dentist, had submitted to the court after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1994 reflected the additional income.
Defense attorney Arturo Watlington Jr. asked Moron-Moolenaar who had filled out the bankruptcy forms. "We both worked on these together," she replied.
In her testimony, Moron-Moolenaar stated that she would read off figures to Moolenaar from the check stubs, while he filled them in on the forms. She also stated that she was the one who deposited Moolenaar's checks and that she kept the check stubs in a container.
Under cross-examination by Bonilla, Moron-Moolenaar stated that she did not know what the term "stale-dated" meant. In the deductions area of Moolenaar's checks, the word "stale" appeared with the figure $1,626.85 next to it.
Moron-Moolenaar said she first heard the term "stale-dated" when being questioned by investigators when Moolenaar faced charges in territorial court in 2001 relating to the overpayments. She said that at that time she told the investigators she did not know what the term meant. Watlington then told her that it refers to checks that are too old to be cashed or deposited.
The V.I. Justice Department dropped the territorial charges because the Virgin Islands has no law against criminal conversion of government funds. The U.S. Justice Department then picked up the case, and last September a federal grand jury handed up an indictment charging Moolenaar with grand larceny and conversion of funds.
On Wednesday, the defense also questioned five other witnesses before resting its case: Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull; attorney Stylish Willis, who represented Moolenaar in his bankruptcy case; Nicholas Peru, special investigator with the Attorney General's Office; and two character witnesses — a priest and a patient of Moolenaar's.
The trial is to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday. Both sides are to present closing arguments.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.