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Attorney General Smith Resigns

Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith has resigned. (Source file photo)

Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith has resigned, Government House revealed Tuesday in a four-sentence press release. Smith’s last day on the job will be March 15, making her tenure as the territory’s top litigator 259 days.

The nature of the departure — timing and reason — remains an open question.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., who nominated Smith to replace Denise George as attorney general on March 21, 2023, thanked Smith for her dedication and wished her well in “future endeavors.”

Smith was sworn in June 30, 2023, after approval by the Senate. She was questioned by the Committee on Rules and Judiciary on May 10, 2023. Committee Chair Sen. Diane Capehart said Tuesday evening Smith’s imminent departure was unexpected

“I myself am a little taken aback after just going through the process of vetting the attorney general,” Capehart said. “At this point, I’m just surprised. After going through the process for this position, I’m just left wondering why.”

Capehart said she learned of the resignation via social media.

“I have not received any notification from Government House. I haven’t received anything from the Senate president’s office,” she said.

Government House spokesman Richard Motta declined to give additional information about Smith’s departure.

Smith replaced Attorney General George, whom Bryan fired in December 2022 on the heels of her record $105 million settlement with the estate of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Bryan nominated Carol Thomas-Jacobs, the acting attorney general between George and Smith, to be a Superior Court judge.

The Virgin Islands’ Epstein albatross did not end with the settlement, however. A November 2023 suit by victims of the sex offender alleges more than 100 local government employees aided in Epstein’s crimes. The list mostly comprises unnamed customs officials and airport employees but also includes former V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer, former governors Kenneth Mapp and John de Jongh, Cecil de Jongh, former Senators Carlton Dowe and Celestino White, and Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett.

While the de Jonghs, Dowe, White, and Plaskett have private attorneys, Mapp and Frazer are represented by the V.I. Justice Department, which has hired the private firm Motley Rice LLC to handle the case.

George, who had been attorney general since 2019, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Smith’s resignation nor the rigors of the job.

Smith had previously served as the chief of the Civil Division in the V.I. Justice Department, a position she had held since 2016.

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