Williams plea deal sealed by judge because of 'highly sensitive nature'
Published: January 16, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A federal judge is prepared to hear arguments Thursday about whether the court should accept a guilty plea from former Sen. Alvin Williams Jr.
Williams and his attorney, Gordon Rhea, on Monday entered an application for a change of plea that indicated Williams, 34, and federal prosecutors had agreed to a deal under which Williams would plead guilty to racketeering.
According to online court records, Chief District Judge Curtis Gomez scheduled a hearing on the matter for Thursday, as requested by both sides.
The court on Tuesday also approved a motion by Rhea to file a separate motion regarding Williams' plea agreement and sentencing under seal.
"The Defendant has conferred with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and both agree that certain information to be presented to the Court regarding the joint recommendation for the disposition of this case and the Defendant's sentence pursuant to the parties' plea agreement is of a highly sensitive nature," the motion states. "The public dissemination of this information and the joint recommendation to be presented to the Court by the Defendant could potentially frustrate the plea agreement, ongoing investigations, and the administration of justice."
Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller approved the motion on Tuesday.
According to the plea application filed Monday, Williams agreed to plead guilty to count one of a nine-count grand jury indictment handed down Nov. 8. The count charges Williams with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act while he served in the 27th, 28th and 29th Legislatures.
The first count of the indictment includes the following allegations:
- In September 2009, Williams attempted to bribe V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls with $10,000 in cash in exchange for future government work for his and his father's company, Ace Development.
- Between February 2007 and November 2011, Williams influenced and promoted legislative action in support of the Raphune Vistas housing project, valued at as much as $2 million, of which Ace Development stood to gain more than $789,000.
- In September 2008, Williams solicited or received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the developers of the Tutu Park Mall windmill project in exchange for legislative support for the project.
- Between 2010 and 2011, Williams increased the salary of a legislative staff member in exchange for the staff member giving Williams a portion of the salary increase.
- Between April 2007 and October 2011, one of Williams' legislative staff members submitted online course work to the University of Phoenix and falsely attributed it to Williams.
Williams faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and an aggregate fine of $250,000 on the charge, according to the plea application.
Williams would face a maximum penalty of 80 years in jail and $568,000 in fines on all nine counts in the indictment, the application states.
Under the terms of the proposed plea deal, the government would drop the remaining counts of the indictment accusing Williams of federal program bribery, and Virgin Islands crimes of bribery, conflict of interest related to bribery, conspiracy related to fraudulent claims upon government, obtaining money by false pretenses, embezzlement and falsification of a public account and obtaining money by false pretenses related to an online university degree.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.