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Harris Pleads Guilty in GRM Contract Scam

May 6, 2006 – Ohanio Harris, former special assistant to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his involvement in a questionable $3.6 million no-bid contract awarded to Global Resources Management in 2002.
Harris, who was originally indicted along with four others in February 2004, was charged at that time with conspiracy, wire fraud, program fraud and conflict in interest. (See "5 Indicted for Conspiracy in Sewage Contract".)
This week he pleaded guilty in the V.I. District Court to conspiracy to commit theft and bribery in connection with federal money, conflict of interest and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins.
The original indictment charged Harris with using his influence with Turnbull to obtain benefits for GRM and its principals: Ashley Andrews, former Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, her husband Esdel Hansen, and former post auditor Campbell Malone.
The indictment alleged the five conspired to form GRM for the sole purpose of obtaining the multimillion dollar contract to repair St. Croix's decrepit sewage system.
The V.I. government had entered into a consent decree in 1984 to repair the ailing system that routinely spewed raw sewage into the ocean around St. Croix. The decree was amended in 1996 and thereafter former District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore alternately ordered the V.I. government to comply and threatened it with contempt of court.
In the fall of 2002, prior to November's gubernatorial election, using powers under a state of emergency first declared two and a half years earlier, in March 2000, Turnbull waived the competitive bidding process for the repairs and awarded GRM the contract.
In June 2002, the indictment said, Harris had met with Turnbull to "discuss awarding a sewer contract to GRM." According to the indictment, it was after this meeting that GRM applied for a construction contractor's license – which was granted on July 24, 2002.
Court documents allege that as early as 2000, after Turnbull declared the state of emergency, the five were meeting to discuss the formation of GRM for the sole purpose of obtaining the contract.
In January 2003, U.S. Attorney David Nissman, in cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division, filed suit in District Court calling upon the V.I. government to show cause as to why it should not be stopped from executing the contract.
Moore found on behalf of Justice and ordered the V.I. government not to carry out the contract, which Turnbull quietly canceled two days before the initial show-cause hearing in the case.
Despite Turnbull's action, Moore held the hearing anyway and later filed a scathing 60-page opinion that cited political influence peddling to be at the bottom of the GRM fiasco.
"A distinct odor emanates from the construction contract the governor of the Virgin Islands, Charles Wesley Turnbull, signed with Global Resources Management Inc. on Dec. 20, 2002, for emergency sewer repairs, and it is not the smell of sewage from the decrepit and failed St. Croix sewer system," Moore wrote in the introduction to the memorandum he issued in conjunction with his order.
"It is the reek of politics and political influence, and quite possibly of political corruption" (See "Judge Finds 'Reek of Politics' in Sewage Contract".)
Harris faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a maximum $250,000 fine and a special assessment of $100 on the federal conspiracy count. He is due to be sentenced on Nov. 13.
Meanwhile, jury selection begins Monday in District Court on St. Croix for the trial of the other four alleged conspirators.
Jenkins cautioned that the guilty pleas apply only to Harris and therefore the other defendants are presumed innocent at this time.

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May 6, 2006 - Ohanio Harris, former special assistant to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his involvement in a questionable $3.6 million no-bid contract awarded to Global Resources Management in 2002.
Harris, who was originally indicted along with four others in February 2004, was charged at that time with conspiracy, wire fraud, program fraud and conflict in interest. (See "5 Indicted for Conspiracy in Sewage Contract".)
This week he pleaded guilty in the V.I. District Court to conspiracy to commit theft and bribery in connection with federal money, conflict of interest and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins.
The original indictment charged Harris with using his influence with Turnbull to obtain benefits for GRM and its principals: Ashley Andrews, former Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, her husband Esdel Hansen, and former post auditor Campbell Malone.
The indictment alleged the five conspired to form GRM for the sole purpose of obtaining the multimillion dollar contract to repair St. Croix's decrepit sewage system.
The V.I. government had entered into a consent decree in 1984 to repair the ailing system that routinely spewed raw sewage into the ocean around St. Croix. The decree was amended in 1996 and thereafter former District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore alternately ordered the V.I. government to comply and threatened it with contempt of court.
In the fall of 2002, prior to November's gubernatorial election, using powers under a state of emergency first declared two and a half years earlier, in March 2000, Turnbull waived the competitive bidding process for the repairs and awarded GRM the contract.
In June 2002, the indictment said, Harris had met with Turnbull to "discuss awarding a sewer contract to GRM." According to the indictment, it was after this meeting that GRM applied for a construction contractor's license - which was granted on July 24, 2002.
Court documents allege that as early as 2000, after Turnbull declared the state of emergency, the five were meeting to discuss the formation of GRM for the sole purpose of obtaining the contract.
In January 2003, U.S. Attorney David Nissman, in cooperation with the U.S. Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division, filed suit in District Court calling upon the V.I. government to show cause as to why it should not be stopped from executing the contract.
Moore found on behalf of Justice and ordered the V.I. government not to carry out the contract, which Turnbull quietly canceled two days before the initial show-cause hearing in the case.
Despite Turnbull's action, Moore held the hearing anyway and later filed a scathing 60-page opinion that cited political influence peddling to be at the bottom of the GRM fiasco.
"A distinct odor emanates from the construction contract the governor of the Virgin Islands, Charles Wesley Turnbull, signed with Global Resources Management Inc. on Dec. 20, 2002, for emergency sewer repairs, and it is not the smell of sewage from the decrepit and failed St. Croix sewer system," Moore wrote in the introduction to the memorandum he issued in conjunction with his order.
"It is the reek of politics and political influence, and quite possibly of political corruption" (See "Judge Finds 'Reek of Politics' in Sewage Contract".)
Harris faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a maximum $250,000 fine and a special assessment of $100 on the federal conspiracy count. He is due to be sentenced on Nov. 13.
Meanwhile, jury selection begins Monday in District Court on St. Croix for the trial of the other four alleged conspirators.
Jenkins cautioned that the guilty pleas apply only to Harris and therefore the other defendants are presumed innocent at this time.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.