Attorney denies he has a conflict of interest in Williams corruption case
Published: January 2, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The attorney for a St. Thomas company embroiled in the corruption case against Sen. Alvin Williams Jr. has responded to allegations from federal prosecutors that he may have a conflict of interest in the case.
Attorney George Hodge Jr. has filed a notice of appearance to represent Ace Development, a St. Thomas company that the government contends has been run by Williams and his father since 1983.
Williams' father, Alvin Williams Sr., has appeared in court as the chief executive officer of Ace Development and pleaded not guilty to federal and local charges of bribery and a local charge of conflict of interest related to bribery.
The government in December challenged Hodge's involvement in the case. In a motion to disqualify Hodge, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kim Lindquist and Kelly Lake argued that Hodge has been counsel for Sen. Alicia Hansen "in the recent past" and that Hodge "has received corresponding remuneration from the government of the Virgin Islands."
Because Ace Development is charged by the People of the Virgin Islands, the V.I. government is a plaintiff in the case, the motion argues. This would mean Hodge "represents or is affiliated with" both sides of the case, which constitutes a conflict of interest, according to the government's motion.
Hodge, who served on Hansen's staff in the 29th Legislature, filed a response Dec. 28 in which he argues that the government's motion is "based solely on a hypothetic." Hodge states that he "has severed all ties" from Hansen, the Legislature and the V.I. government since March 9.
The allegations against Ace and Alvin Williams Jr. date back to 2009.
Hodge's argument is based upon distinguishing between Hansen, the Legislature and the executive branch of the V.I. government.
Hodge acknowledges that he represented Hansen in a criminal matter in 2007, but he states that the attorney-client relationship in that case terminated upon Hansen's misdemeanor convictions that same year. He also argues that the V.I. Attorney General and U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case against Ace Development "are exercising a prosecutorial function of the executive branch and do not represent the Legislature just by saying they represent the Government as a former or present employer of defense counsel."
Instead, Hodge reasons, the government's motion to disqualify him "originates from his zealous representation" of Ace Development. Hodge has a pending motion before the court to dismiss the charges against Ace, arguing the charges were not properly brought against the company.
The government has asked the court to hold a hearing to determine whether Hodge's involvement constitutes an actual conflict of interest, and if it does, to disqualify him from the case. No specific hearing had been scheduled on the matter as of Monday, but an omnibus hearing in the Williams case is scheduled for today before District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller, according to online court records.
Alvin Williams Jr. was charged in a nine-count November indictment and is accused of:
- Giving $10,000 in cash to V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls between June and December 2009 in an attempt to influence Smalls to grant future work to Ace Development.
- Accepting bribes from the developers of Raphune Vistas.
- Accepting $35,000 in bribes from the developers of the wind turbines at Tutu Park Mall.
- Committing wire fraud by using public funds to pay for courses and having staff members submit work in his name to obtain an online degree in his name from University of Phoenix.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of property worth at least $1.1 million.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.