The former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands was arrested on Tuesday morning after years of law enforcement officials, both local and federal, stalling an investigation into alleged financial improprieties on his part.
John P. DeJongh, Jr., was arrested by local authorities in the territory on embezzlement charges, Attorney General Claude Walker confirmed.
“Today, Aug. 18, 2015, I announce the arrests of the former Governor of the Virgin Islands, John P. DeJongh, Jr., and Julito Frances, former director of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority,” Walker told reporters in a press conference broadcast over local radio. “This morning both men were advised of their constitutional rights before a Superior Court magistrate in the St. Thomas district. Both men were arrested on two counts: Embezzlement of public monies and neglecting to pay over public monies in violation of the Virgin Islands criminal code.”
Both charges are punishable with fines of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison, or both. Conviction also disqualifies anyone from holding public office ever again.
“We allege that on or about April 2007 through January 2009, both men—being public offices—acted in concert in the process of conversion of public monies for private use and executed several government contracts to convert $490,000.25 of Virgin Islands government highway funds to fund improvements to the private residence of former Gov. DeJongh without authority of law,” Walker continued. “These funds however were specifically earmarked by the Virgin Islands legislature … to repair public roads. Both men will be arraigned in approximately two weeks. As always we remind the public that any person accused of any crime is innocent until proven guilty.”
On Feb. 1, 2012, this reporter—while working for The Daily Caller—broke the story that DeJongh was in serious trouble with law enforcement.
The corruption case extends well beyond the government of the Virgin Islands up into the highest levels of the Justice Department, and now former Attorney General Eric Holder is personally well aware of all the details. Holder, of course, hails personally from the Virgin Islands. There are also accusations that the DOJ was compromised during the investigation.
“A U.S. Justice Department source has told The Daily Caller that at least two DOJ prosecutors accepted cash bribes from allegedly corrupt finance executives who were indicted under court seal within the past 13 months, but never arrested or prosecuted,” this reporter wrote for The Daily Caller back then.
The sitting governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, his attorney general and an unspecified number of Virgin Islands legislators also accepted bribes, the source said, adding that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is aware prosecutors and elected officials were bribed and otherwise compromised, but has not held anyone accountable. The bribed officials, an attorney with knowledge of the investigation told TheDC, remain on the taxpayers’ payroll at the Justice Department without any accountability. The DOJ source said Holder does not want to admit public officials accepted bribes while under his leadership. That source said that until the summer of 2011, the two compromised prosecutors were part of a team of more than 25 federal prosecutors pursuing a financial crime ring, and at least five other prosecutors tasked to the case were also compromised by the criminal suspects they were investigating, without being bribed.
At one point, when DeJongh was secretly flying to Washington, D.C., to purportedly meet with DOJ officials including Holder himself about this case. His office didn’t publicly, as it normally would for such a major event and travel, announce the trip to D.C.—the governor’s bodyguard physically restrained this reporter at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, as this reporter tried to ask DeJongh as question when he walked out of the airport and got into a black SUV.
The Tuesday morning was conducted by local law enforcement officials and is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of local government corruption. Walker, in his press conference, wouldn’t answer detailed questions from local reporters about federal law enforcement activities on this matter.
“I cannot provide information on that,” Walker said when asked if more arrests are coming, as this reporter previously indicated in that there were sealed indictments sitting for years now of top finance executives and local government officials.
“This was a local matter handled by the attorney general’s office,” Walker answered when asked if the feds were involved.
It’s unclear what will happen next, but this move by local law enforcement may force the feds to move in on what they’ve been holding back on for years.