Julito Francis, Gerard Castor Sr. and John Woods will face a jury in a federal corruption trial scheduled for Sept. 28.
At an arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller on Wednesday, attorneys for the defendants said their clients have requested a trial by jury. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez will preside.
Francis is former director of finance and administration for the V.I. Public Finance Authority. Gerard Castor Sr., is president and owner of Balbo Construction Corporation, and John Woods is co-principal in the Jaredian Design Group,
A grand jury indictment released Aug. 6 accuses Francis and Woods of accepting improvements to their personal properties from Castor’s Balbo Construction Corp. while using their positions of influence to get the company more than $17 million in contracts to build the Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library. The indictment also accuses the defendants of creating false documents to cover up the exchange.
Woods is accused of accepting $10,000 worth of improvements to his driveway. Francis allegedly accepted $400,000 worth of improvements to his home, including the construction of bedrooms, a pool, a poolroom and a deck.
Castor, who is being represented by attorneys Darren John-Baptiste and David J. Cattie, is accused of 10 counts of conspiracy, bribery, and honest services wire fraud.
Francis, represented by Robert E. King, stands accused 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, extortion under the color of official right, perjury and honest services wire fraud.
Woods, represented by Treston E. Moore, stands accused of three counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion under the color of official right.
All three defendants have worked in the V.I. government or received numerous large government contracts over the past decade.
Francis was appointed director of finance and administration for the VIPFA by former Gov. John deJongh Jr. in 2007. In 2011 he briefly served as the president and CEO of the V.I. Next Generation Network before being fired by the board in October of that year.
Woods, the first cousin of deJongh, is co-principal of St. Thomas-based Jaredian Design Group, a firm frequently contracted for government and commercial architecture and design projects in the territory.
Jaredian’s projects include the Christiansted Boardwalk, the headquarters of VIPFA, the Main Street Enhancement Project in Charlotte Amalie, and a planned condominium complex and marina in Coral Bay, St. John.
Woods has also served on the V.I. Board of Land Use Appeals, the State Board of Historic Preservation, and the Industrial Development Commission.
His firm was the designer of the Charles W. Turnbull Regional Library, the project that he and Francis allegedly helped Castor’s company win contracts to.
Other jobs which Balbo Construction has worked on include projects at the V.I. Legislature building, Smith Bay Park, and improvements to Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.
Castor was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term, a $10,000 fine and 200 community service hours for tax evasion in a separate case earlier this year.
Assistant U.S. District Attorney Nelson Jones and Laura Fulton and Justin D. Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case against Castor, Francis and Woods.