Ace Development attorney asks to withdraw from Williams corruption trial
Published: February 14, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - An attorney whose involvement in the corruption case against former V.I. Sen. Alvin Williams Jr. has stirred controversy filed a motion Wednesday to withdraw from the case.
The reason: He said his client, Ace Development, has failed to pay for his services.
George Hodge Jr. filed an entry of appearance in November to defend Ace Development, a St. Thomas company that the government contends has been run by Williams and his father, Alvin Williams Sr., since 1983.
Williams' father, on behalf of the company, has pleaded not guilty to federal and local charges of bribery and a local charge of conflict of interest related to bribery.
According to Hodge's motion filed Wednesday, Williams' father, who is the president and CEO of Ace Development, has failed or refused to pay Hodge's agreed-upon retainer fee.
Hodge states he discussed the overdue account with Alvin Williams Sr., who paid one-sixth of the agreed retainer fee, but this "does not compensate counsel for work completed and expected to be performed by completion of this case."
Hodge said Alvin Williams Sr. was advised to seek new counsel but, to Hodge's knowledge, had not done so as of his filing the motion.
Federal prosecutors previously challenged Hodge's involvement based on his prior work for Sen. Alicia Hansen. The government argued Hodge had been counsel for Hansen "in the recent past" and "has received corresponding remuneration from the government of the Virgin Islands."
Hodge also served on Hansen's staff in the 29th Legislature.
The government argued that Hodge has a conflict of interest because he has worked for the V.I. Legislature, a de facto plaintiff in the criminal case, and he is representing Ace Development, a defendant.
Hodge, in turn, denied any conflict, arguing that his work for the Legislature never overlapped with his work for Ace Development. He said the government's motion was "based solely on a hypothetic" and that he "has severed all ties" from Hansen, the Legislature and the V.I. government since March 9, 2012.
The court never convened a hearing about the matter because the government subsequently dropped its motion, reserving the right to "renew the same pending further investigation."
The rest of the case against Williams has remained quiet since Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez formally accepted Williams' plea of guilty to a racketeering charge on Jan. 17.
Following that hearing, Gomez saw attorneys from both sides in his chambers.
Williams' attorney, Gordon Rhea, has filed five motions under seal since then, according to an online court records database. The most recent of those motions was filed Monday.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.