The tale of a man in prison using the phone at the Bureau of Corrections facility to scam a large sum of money from two people on St. Thomas was declared probable cause for charges of wire fraud.
On Sept. 2 a U.S. magistrate on St. Croix ordered the defendant in the case to be taken into federal custody pending further action by the District Court.
Investigators in the case allege that defendant Yamani Potter impersonated a number of government officials over the course of several months, including judges, magistrates, attorney general and former lieutenant governor. Those allegations are contained in an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Christopher Forvour on Aug. 11 as part of a criminal complaint.
Although the alleged offense was committed on St. Thomas, the federal jurist who would normally have heard the case against Potter recused herself.
That’s because U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller was among the officials Potter allegedly impersonated over the phone as part of his scheme to defraud two persons of more than $180,000.
Authorities say the elaborate scheme – played out between May 2019 and July 2020 – entangled a figure in another federal case from 2001. Court documents identify the victims in the case as Paul Maynard and his sister, Millicent. Paul Maynard – a physician – was convicted in 2007 of writing prescriptions for pain medications to undercover federal investigators without justification. He was sentenced to serve seven months in prison and fined $5,000.
In the affidavit, Forvour said Maynard sought to clear his name and restore his license to practice medicine in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Investigators said Maynard contacted former Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter for help while he was still in office. According to Maynard, the lieutenant governor said he could help him recover his medical license, but on June 10, agents of the FBI interviewed the former lieutenant governor, who said he knew nothing about the details related to the case.
Osbert Potter also told authorities that he was not related to Yamani Potter. He denied being the person who sent three messages, using a cellphone, to Maynard – one in 2019 and two in 2020 – claiming to have obtained settlement funds on Maynard’s behalf.
Bureau of Corrections spokesman Winthrop Maduro said he had heard about the federal allegations against Potter, but could not explain how a series of allegedly fraudulent phone calls originated from the St. Thomas Criminal Justice Complex.
“I’m familiar with his story,” Maduro said. But until he made inquiries, the Corrections spokesman said he could not say what charges Potter was in jail for or how long he was supposed to stay there.