Extortion, bribery and kidnapping are just a few of the charges facing V.I. Police Department officers Enid Edwards, Francis Brooks and V.I. Port Authority officer Bill John-Baptiste, who were indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on St. Thomas.
The 33-count indictment – a mix of federal and local charges – also includes incidences of assault and battery and illegal drug distribution, and says Edwards and Brooks allegedly "abused their positions of trust" as VIPD officers by engaging in "illegal activities for the purpose of enriching themselves," according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment stems from a continued federal probe into public corruption in the territory, carried out by a task force comprised of FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents, along with VIPD investigators, among others.
If convicted on the federal charges, Edwards and Brooks could be looking at a maximum 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. On the local side, the two are facing sentences of a year to life in prison, the release said.
The indictment alleges that from 2000 up to 2005, Edwards and Brooks extorted money from various local drug traffickers, forcing them to pay large sums of money in exchange for not being arrested. They also allegedly sold drugs to one dealer, the release said.
In 2007 the two allegedly forced an unidentified individual to ride around with them in a police car all day, then pay them for returning a car they had had towed.
The indictment also alleges that in 2008, John-Baptiste, working in his capacity as a VIPA enforcement officer, "physically assaulted and detained a person against that person’s will as Edwards and Brooks received cash in exchange for that person’s release from custody," the release said.
John-Baptiste has been charged with aggravated assault and battery, along with unlawful sexual contact, in relation to the incident.
Brooks and Edwards have also been charged with allegedly extorting money from an illegal alien in the states – forcing that person to pay them money in exchange for them not making a report to U.S. immigration authorities, the documents say.
The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t say whether the officers are being held or have been arrested, and other police sources couldn’t say. The Source will provide more details as they become available.