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Defense Rests, Prosecution Gives Closing Arguments in Hansen Re-trial

Feb. 26, 2007 — Federal prosecutors told jurors Monday that former Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen directly benefited from money she steered to a company in 2002 that employed her husband, and the company also gave Hansen a $1,000 "thank you" check.
Hansen, facing territorial conflict-of-interest charges in federal court, could be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted. Last year, a mistrial was declared after a jury was unable to decide her innocence or guilt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy said Hansen issued false documents and engaged in a pattern of deceit to steer $25,000 from the 24th Legislature to Global Resources Management (GRM) and its founder, Ashley Andrews, a longtime friend of the then-Senator.
The plan violated territorial law, Murphy said, because Hansen's husband, Esdel Hansen, was a high-ranking employee of the company and the two shared household incomes.
"It goes without saying that a spouse has an indirect, if not a direct, interest in the financial well being of her spouse," Murphy said in his closing arguments.
"She deceived," he said. "She did it for her own benefit, for her husband's benefit, for Ashley Andrew's benefit, for GRM's benefit; and she did not do it, as she should have … for the people of the Virgin Islands."
The $1,000 contribution to Hansen's failed gubernatorial bid from GRM was also illegal, Murphy said, because it was tantamount to a kickback. The check bounced from GRM's bank account, which at one point was overdrawn by $3. Hansen resubmitted the check and it cleared a day after GRM's account was balanced, Murphy said.
"Even if it was a campaign contribution, was it of unlawful intent?" Murphy asked jurors. "The $1,000 was a 'thank you,' and it was $1,000 that was expected. And when the check bounced, the defendant made sure that there was payment."
Hansen's attorney, George Hodge, is expected to offer the defense's closing arguments Tuesday.
A jury found Andrews and GRM accountant Campbell Malone guilty last year of conspiracy and other charges. District Court Judge James Giles dropped similar charges against Esdel Hansen shortly before the trial started.
Ohanio Harris, an aide to former Gov. Charles Turnbull, admitted to using his close government ties to help GRM get a no-bid $3.6 million sewer-repair contract. Murphy said the $25,000 engineered from Hansen helped add an air of legitimacy to GRM, a startup company with few resources. The Turnbull government never paid GRM the money.
The money from Hansen was for research work allegedly performed by GRM on an amendment to a bill creating a technology park at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix.
Hansen was involved with the bill for less than 45 minutes, however, Murphy said. And her amendment — one paragraph insuring the park be built in St. Croix — was unnecessary, because the original bill already said the park would be built on that island.
"A senator of 16 years — or a senator of six months — knows you don't need to give $25,000 to your friend, whose company is in serious financial trouble, to write it," Murphy said. "What was the government getting for its money?"
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Feb. 26, 2007 -- Federal prosecutors told jurors Monday that former Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen directly benefited from money she steered to a company in 2002 that employed her husband, and the company also gave Hansen a $1,000 "thank you" check.
Hansen, facing territorial conflict-of-interest charges in federal court, could be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted. Last year, a mistrial was declared after a jury was unable to decide her innocence or guilt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Murphy said Hansen issued false documents and engaged in a pattern of deceit to steer $25,000 from the 24th Legislature to Global Resources Management (GRM) and its founder, Ashley Andrews, a longtime friend of the then-Senator.
The plan violated territorial law, Murphy said, because Hansen's husband, Esdel Hansen, was a high-ranking employee of the company and the two shared household incomes.
"It goes without saying that a spouse has an indirect, if not a direct, interest in the financial well being of her spouse," Murphy said in his closing arguments.
"She deceived," he said. "She did it for her own benefit, for her husband's benefit, for Ashley Andrew's benefit, for GRM's benefit; and she did not do it, as she should have ... for the people of the Virgin Islands."
The $1,000 contribution to Hansen's failed gubernatorial bid from GRM was also illegal, Murphy said, because it was tantamount to a kickback. The check bounced from GRM's bank account, which at one point was overdrawn by $3. Hansen resubmitted the check and it cleared a day after GRM's account was balanced, Murphy said.
"Even if it was a campaign contribution, was it of unlawful intent?" Murphy asked jurors. "The $1,000 was a 'thank you,' and it was $1,000 that was expected. And when the check bounced, the defendant made sure that there was payment."
Hansen's attorney, George Hodge, is expected to offer the defense's closing arguments Tuesday.
A jury found Andrews and GRM accountant Campbell Malone guilty last year of conspiracy and other charges. District Court Judge James Giles dropped similar charges against Esdel Hansen shortly before the trial started.
Ohanio Harris, an aide to former Gov. Charles Turnbull, admitted to using his close government ties to help GRM get a no-bid $3.6 million sewer-repair contract. Murphy said the $25,000 engineered from Hansen helped add an air of legitimacy to GRM, a startup company with few resources. The Turnbull government never paid GRM the money.
The money from Hansen was for research work allegedly performed by GRM on an amendment to a bill creating a technology park at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix.
Hansen was involved with the bill for less than 45 minutes, however, Murphy said. And her amendment -- one paragraph insuring the park be built in St. Croix -- was unnecessary, because the original bill already said the park would be built on that island.
"A senator of 16 years -- or a senator of six months -- knows you don't need to give $25,000 to your friend, whose company is in serious financial trouble, to write it," Murphy said. "What was the government getting for its money?"
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.