Ex-police union president charged with theft
Published: March 16, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The former president of the police union for St. Thomas and St. John was arrested Friday on charges that he stole more than $60,000 from the union over three years.
Donald Liburd, 48, of Anna's Retreat, was arrested Friday on a warrant approved the day before by V.I. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay. The warrant was based on an affidavit written by V.I. Justice Department special agent Kenneth Schulterbrandt Jr.
Liburd - who is known by the nickname "Godfather," according to his arrest record - was charged with embezzlement by fiduciaries and obtaining money by false pretenses, according to court records.
He appeared for his advice-of-rights hearing Friday before Magistrate Judge Alan Smith and was released on an unsecured $25,000 bond.
The investigation began in September 2011 with a complaint by Cpl. Elroy Raymo, who at the time was president of the St. Thomas-St. John chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, according to the affidavit.
On June 3 of that year, the union members ordered Liburd to conduct an election within a month; he failed to do so and was impeached on July 1, the affidavit states.
At the union's June 3 meeting, Shikima Rhymer, the secretary-treasurer of the Police Benevolent Association, read a financial report showing about $59,000 in the union's coffers, split between three accounts, Schulterbrandt wrote.
However, when the new officers took over after Liburd's impeachment, they reviewed the union's accounts and "discovered that none of the account balances resembled the amounts" that Rhymer had presented on June 3, the affidavit states.
After reviewing further bank records, the new union officers "became suspicious that PBA funds may have been misappropriated," Schulterbrandt wrote.
Raymo and other newly elected union officers subsequently set up a meeting with Liburd at Molly Molones in Red Hook. According to the affidavit, Liburd admitted at that meeting that he had taken about $40,000 in union funds for his personal use and that Rhymer had nothing to do with the missing money because Liburd had taken possession of the union checkbook from her.
On Aug. 27, 2011, Liburd wrote a letter to Raymo stating the following:
"Dear President Raymo: I am requesting a meeting with the membership to discuss the matter of the Bank accounts which they have great concerns about. I now there are a lot of speculations about how and why the monies were withdrawn. I would like to discuss this matter with the members and throw myself at their mercy to have it resolved. I also would like to come up with a tentative agreement with the members to repay all of the monies back to the accounts without any dire consequences to befall upon me. I know this is an embarrassing situation to the previous administration and to me of my actions. I know I have let down many of the members but I promise I will correct the wrong and with their understanding we can go on with our lives."
Raymo reported his suspicions about the missing funds to police two days later.
Rhymer told investigators that Liburd would come to her house while she was on leave to ask her to countersign checks, according to the affidavit. She said Liburd frequently would have her countersign several blank checks at one time and assured her he would fill out all of the appropriate documentation later.
Liburd, who maintained all of the bank statements and account information, also would tell Rhymer what figures to include in her regular financial reports to the membership, Schulterbrandt wrote.
Schulterbrandt's affidavit lists at least 54 checks written out to Liburd or to "cash" for which there was no supporting documentation as required by union bylaws.
The checks, which span July 2008 to June 2011, bore memos such as "union rep," "union business" and "atty fees," according to the affidavit.
In all, the affidavit accuses Liburd of misappropriating $65,073 of union funds for his own personal use.
The affidavit concludes that Liburd "willfully, knowingly and intentionally" misappropriated the funds and sought to conceal his actions by placing false information on the memo line of the checks.
"By this practice, he sought to perpetuate his scheme so it could go undetected," Schulterbrandt wrote.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.