Williams' assistant wants charge dismissed
Published: March 11, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A defense attorney in the corruption case against former Sen. Alvin Williams Jr. is seeking to dismiss the charge accusing his client, Williams' former staff member, of committing fraud by performing coursework toward the senator's online degree.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Gabriel Villegas filed a motion on Thursday arguing that the indictment against Kim Blackett is "fatally defective and fails to state an offense."
The government's nine-count indictment was filed Nov. 8 and charged Williams, Blackett, Ace Development and Garry Sprauve with a variety of crimes. Williams has since pleaded guilty of racketeering in the case.
The count against Blackett charges her and Williams jointly with obtaining money by false pretenses under V.I. law. Specifically, it states that Williams, as a senator, paid Blackett "legislative and public funds for doing non-legislative work; namely, pursuing an online university degree" for Williams.
Under V.I. law, anyone who "knowingly and designedly, by false or fraudulent representation or pretenses, defrauds any other person of money or property" can be found guilty of obtaining money by false pretenses.
But Villegas argues in the motion that the crime Blackett is alleged to have committed does not fit that definition.
"In the instant case, notwithstanding the cryptic wording of Count Nine, the Government must show that Ms. Blackett made a misrepresentation of a material fact, knowing it to be false and intending a person to rely on the false or fraudulent representation and the person did so to their detriment," Villegas wrote, underlining the two iterations of "person."
Blackett's employer - the V.I. government - does not meet the definition of "person" required under the law, according to Villegas.
"Although the government has tried to circumvent this irrefutable fact by alleging that the 'person' was 'Alvin L. Williams Jr.' in his capacity as a senator of the Virgin Islands Legislature, it is clear that her employer was indeed, the Government of the Virgin Islands," Villegas wrote.
Villegas refers to a 2012 opinion from the V.I. Supreme Court holding that the government does not meet the definition of a person under the V.I. Code.
Villegas lastly characterizes the count against Blackett as "an unjust linguistic anomaly which attempts to somehow fashion the illogical claim that Alvin Williams Jr. is both the perpetrator of the crime with Ms. Blackett and also the victim of the crime by pursuing an on-line degree for his sole benefit."
A judge had not ruled on this motion as of press time Sunday.
George Hodge Jr.
Other recent activity in the Williams case has centered upon the involvement of attorney George Hodge Jr., who began the case representing Ace Development.
The government first challenged Hodge's involvement, citing his prior work for the V.I. Legislature.
Hodge countered that his past work did not create a conflict of interest, and the government dropped its motion to remove him from the case.
Since then, Hodge has asked to withdraw from the case because Ace Development has failed to pay him.
Williams' attorney, Gordon Rhea, filed a document on Friday indicating that he agreed to also represent Ace Development, which is owned by Williams' father.
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on his guilty plea April 25.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.