Sept. 29, 2005 — Carlton Dowe sank in his chair a little Tuesday when a former co-worker with the Fire Service testified she unwittingly helped the former Senator commit what prosecutors say is fraud.
Dowe, 48, was charged in August 2004 with two counts of wire fraud for allegedly over-billing the U.S. Virgin Islands government more than $75,000 in March of 2001.
Dowe, a former director of the island's Fire Service, won a legal settlement from the government in 2001 along with other Fire Service executives that awarded him a pay raise for college degrees. Dowe, who has pleaded innocent, collected the pay raise twice, prosecutors alleged.
Former Fire Service employee Rosalie Corrcino said she helped then-Senator Dowe arrange payroll paperwork to collect more than $103,000 — some $75,000 more than prosecutors say he was entitled to.
Corrcino said she didn't know Dowe had already collected some $50,000 and didn't think she was breaking the law, as prosecutors allege.
She acknowledged, however, that she accepted $300 cash and a $300 check from Dowe for the service.
Corrcino said she suspected something was wrong in January 2002 when Dowe asked her to meet him in a parking lot, allegedly coaching her on how to lie to federal investigators.
"He told me he was giving me a heads up on what kind of questions the investigators would be asking me," she said.
Corrcino said she initially lied to the investigators, claiming no one had instructed her to process the payments to Dowe.
"Why did you lie," asked Armando Bonilla, a federal prosecutor.
"Because I was asked to," Corrcino answered.
"By who," asked Bonilla.
"Mr. Dowe," she said.
After two interviews with V.I. Inspector General officers, Corrcino said she agreed to secretly tape record two conversations with Dowe.
"I thought I was about to lose my job and could be up for criminal charges," she said.
Bonilla played the tapes in open court. At times garbled and inaudible, the more than 30 minutes of recordings portrayed Dowe and Corrcino discussing the financial records.
If found guilty, Dowe could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The jury trial, which started Monday afternoon, is scheduled to continue Wednesday.
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