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Monday, July 22, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsBryan Calls for Resignations Amid Federal Investigation into Misuse of Funds

Bryan Calls for Resignations Amid Federal Investigation into Misuse of Funds

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has called for the resignation of VIPD Police Commissioner and OMB Director Jenifer O’Neal. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has called for the resignations of V.I. Police Commissioner Ray Martinez and Office of Management and Budget Director Jenifer O’Neal following an ongoing federal investigation into potential misuse of funds. As of 2 p.m., Martinez’s resignation had been accepted “to ensure the integrity of our enforcement laws,” according to an official statement.

“We will fully cooperate with the federal investigation and are committed to maintaining the highest standards of transparency and accountability within the Virgin Islands government,” read a statement sent to The Source on Sunday.

Currently, it is known that Martinez was recently served a letter designating him as the target of the investigation and had his personal cell phone seized, which Government House confirmed he had reported. O’Neal, while in Orlando, was also subpoenaed in connection with the matter and has surrendered her phone.

Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have revealed that the investigation focuses on a cybersecurity and surveillance contract awarded by VIPD to a company that allegedly provided Martinez with funding for an eatery he has been planning to open on St. Thomas. There are questions about whether the contract was awarded using federal ARPA funds and if a family member of O’Neal is involved with the company that secured the contract.

The V.I. Attorney General is expected to address the situation at a press conference scheduled by Government House on Monday. Officials emphasized Sunday that the administration maintains “a zero-tolerance policy against corruption.”

This development follows the recent arrests of V.I. Education Department’s Maintenance Director Davidson Charlemagne and his wife, Sasha. U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith announced the arrests after a federal grand jury indicted the couple on charges of government program fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment also implicates former Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority Chief Operating Officer Darin Richardson, 56, of St. Thomas, with criminal conflict of interest and making materially false statements.

“These defendants exploited hurricane recovery efforts to orchestrate a $4 million scheme to defraud taxpayers,” stated Smith in Thursday’s release. “This indictment sends a clear message that the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue public officials who seek to profit from natural disasters.”

The charges are the result of a two-year investigation into a VIHFA contract for storing and managing wood shipped to the territory for reconstruction following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Further details on the case and charges can be found here.

The Source is committed to reporting accurately and fairly on these matters and will continue to uphold these standards as the investigation unfolds and new information emerges.

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