Government drops objection to lawyer

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ST. THOMAS - Three days before former Sen. Alvin Williams Jr. agreed to enter into a plea agreement in a federal and local corruption case, the government dropped its request to dismiss a defense attorney from the proceedings.

The court had not ruled on the motion as of Monday night.

Federal prosecutors on Friday asked to withdraw their request to remove attorney George Hodge Jr., who is defending Ace Development, a St. Thomas company that the government contends has been run by Williams and his father, Alvin Williams Sr., since 1983.

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 challenged Hodge's involvement based on his prior work for Sen. Alicia Hansen. Prosecutors argued Hodge has 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.

"If Attorney Hodge is presently counsel for Senator Hansen or associated with her in any capacity whereby he received remuneration from the Virgin Islands Legislature, then he represents or is otherwise affiliated with both a Plaintiff and a Defendant in this case," the motion stated.

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, has denied any conflict, arguing that his work for the Legislature never overlapped with his work for Ace Development. He said the government's motion is "based solely on a hypothetic" and that he "has severed all ties" from Hansen, the Legislature and the V.I. government since March 9.

The court never convened a hearing on the matter. The government's motion to drop the issue does not state a specific reason and reserves the right to "renew the same pending further investigation."

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