Former V.I. Lottery employee charged in arson and theft
Published: March 14, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A former acting supervisor within the V.I. Lottery System was advised of her rights Wednesday on charges that she stole more than $60,000 from the system and tried to burn her office down.
Loriel Weeks, 47, of Altona and Welgunst, was arrested early Tuesday on a warrant charging her with arson, burglary, embezzlement and grand larceny.
The affidavit for the warrant, written by V.I. Justice Department investigator James McCall, states that Weeks committed the crimes in early 2010.
The events began in February 2010, when a private audit of the Lottery System showed between 700 and 1,000 lottery sheets, valued between $23 and $30 each, were missing from the Spenceley sales office, according to McCall's affidavit.
After the audit findings, Lottery System Director Conrad Francois met with Weeks on March 10, 2010, and told her that he was re-assigning her effective March 15 to a different office that did not handle ticket sales, the affidavit states.
Francois described Weeks' reaction as "very upset," and he said that she offered to take a demotion and a $17,000 pay cut to remain at the Spenceley office, according to the affidavit.
The next day, Weeks, complaining of a foul odor, dismissed all of the employees from the Spenceley office without permission, McCall wrote.
The day after that, Friday, March 12 - Weeks' last day as acting supervisor - Weeks submitted cash balance paperwork and money bags totalling $64,305.93.
Weeks was allowed to keep the keys to the office over the weekend, and on March 13, a Saturday, surveillance video shows a man entering the office at 4:36 a.m., according to the affidavit. The intruder is shown attempting to open the vault several times while he talks on a cell phone.
About an hour later, the man can be seen returning with a woman who "matches the overall physical description" of Weeks, McCall wrote. The man unlocked the front door of the Spenceley building and gained access to the sales office with a key, according to McCall.
At 5:42 a.m. the man disabled the surveillance camera by hitting it with what appeared to be a book or stack of papers, McCall wrote. Eight minutes later, a smoke alarm triggered a 911 call.
At 5:51 a.m. surveillance cameras in the hallway of the building show a fire coming from inside a vault in the cashiers' station, and the man and woman can be seen leaving the building by running through the front door, the affidavit states. The woman briefly returns to close the main exterior shutters to the building.
Only two individuals, one of whom was Weeks, had keys to the building and the vault's access code; the other individual did not match the physical appearance of the woman in the video, according to the affidavit.
Firefighters responding to the 911 call had to cut the lock on the main exterior shutters to enter the building, McCall wrote. Inside, they found the vault was open and the fire was contained to the top two shelves of the vault. Weeks' office appeared to be "ransacked," according to firefighters.
When the Lottery System's chief financial officer assessed the damage, he determined that $62,760.43 in lottery funds were missing from the office, according to the affidavit.
McCall also reviewed call logs from three cell phones issued to Weeks and found that all three were in use between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on the morning in question, the affidavit states.
At Weeks' advice-of-rights hearing, V.I. Magistrate Judge Alan Smith released her on an unsecured $25,000 bond.
McCall declined to comment for this story, deferring questions to a Government House press release.
Lottery System officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
- Contact Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.