The public corruption trial of former Government Employees’ Retirement System Administrator Willis Todmann, accused of forging documents in order to embezzle a second six-figure salary from government pensioners, begins this week on St. Thomas, with jury selection scheduled for Tuesday.
Arrested and charged with embezzlement, grand larceny, forgery and conversion of government property in 2008, Todmann has pleaded not guilty.
The investigation into Todmann’s financial arrangement with GERS was triggered in 2006 by a letter to the attorney general’s office alleging Todmann had "wrongfully" been collecting two paychecks during his tenure at GERS, court documents say.
Before November 2004, Todmann served as GERS’ chief financial officer, making $100.000 per year. That year GERS promoted Todmann to serve as the system’s acting administrator, earning a raise in pay to $117,000 per year under a GERS governing board resolution authorizing Todmann to collect his CFO salary plus 15 percent of what was then the administrator’s salary.
After getting a pay raise for taking on the responsibilities of GERS administrator, prosecutors allege Todmann arranged to have himself paid an entire second salary by forging a memo from then-GERS board chairman Carver Farrow. Prosecutors say the system’s payroll records indicate that between February 2006 and February 2007, Todmann was paid the full salaries for both jobs, collecting an annual salary of $237,000.
In 2006 alone, unauthorized payments to Todmann totaled nearly $113,000, in addition to $33,000 in retroactive payments, court documents say.
Todmann resigned in March 2007 and that same day officials publicly acknowledged financial irregularities at the system, but made no mention of Todmann. Before his arrest for corruptly enriching himself off the pension system, Todmann served in the V.I. government for 24 years, 12 at GERS. At his confirmation hearing in 2006, senators praised Todmann’s qualifications and character and voted unanimously to approve him.