The trial of Lauritz and Frank Mills, which was originally set for Monday Nov. 7, has been postponed until Jan. 30, 2012, to allow time for additional discovery.
Lauritz Mills, director of the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research (BER), was charged in May 2011 with embezzling federal funds and filing false tax returns. Her husband, Frank Mills, was charged with filing false tax returns. Both have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail pending trial.
In a motion filed with U.S. District Court on Oct. 26, Treston Moore, defense attorney for Lauritz Mills, requested the continuance to allow time to find evidence pertinent to the case. Judge Curtis Gomez granted the motion on Nov. 4.
According to the motion, Mills is seeking “several bankers’ boxes of materials that were removed from the defendant’s and additional offices” in connection with the related case of People v. Aldric Simmonds.
The motion did not specify the nature of the documents being sought, but stated that they are believed to be in the possession of the VI Attorney General and the VI Inspector General. Moore wrote that “the defendant has prepared and will issue subpoenas” to both parties in an effort to locate the missing materials.
Aldric Simmonds is a former government aide, who was sentenced in 2008 to seven years in prison for embezzling federal funds from an account set up at the BER.
A September 2009 audit report stated that Lauritz Mills knew about Simmonds’ transactions but didn’t report them. The audit report, which also highlighted inadequacies in the management and accounting of bureau funds, the processing of transactions, and the awarding of professional service contracts, led to an investigation and charges against Mills.
On May 17, 2011, Lauritz Mills was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of theft of federal program funds. The indictment alleges that in 2006 she knowingly embezzled more than $5000 from HRSA State Planning Grant Program and the 2006 Economic Development Planning Grant Fund.
At the same time, both Lauritz and Frank Mills were indicted on two counts of filing a false tax return. Tax forms showed they had taxable income of $77,647 in 2004, and $101,348 in 2005, but they “knew they had taxable income exceeding that amount,” according to the indictment.
Frank Mills is director of the Eastern Caribbean center at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is represented by attorney Gordon C. Rhea.