Former St. Croix Senator Wayne James’ Federal Corruption Trial Set To Begin on Monday
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Former St. Croix Senator Wayne James is set to go to trial on Monday to face federal corruption charges that he stole taxpayer money to pay for a personal trip to Europe.
James, an attorney himself, has been successful in delaying the trail since he was arrested in Italy on June 29, 2016. He was extradited back to the territory in August of 2016.
The former Democratic senator is facing federal criminal charges that include two counts of wire fraud and one count of federal program embezzlement. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
In February, the prosecution and defense in the criminal case against James filed a joint motion asking the trial be postponed to July 16 or later.
Each side is hoping the the U.S. Third Circuit of Appeals will issue its ruling on James’ appeal of the courts’ rejection of his motion to dismiss the charges before the trial.
Through his attorneys, James has asked the court to dismiss the charges, arguing that if he asked for money for a legitimate legislative reason he is immune from prosecution for pocketing taxpayer money by falsifying the documents and either not doing the tasks he billed the government for, or in other cases, billing the Legislature for things he did on his own before he was elected.
In October, U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez rejected James’ motion to dismiss the charges and James filed an appeal of the ruling.
A panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal on December 12, 2017.
Trial has been postponed several times awaiting the ruling and is currently scheduled to begin on Monday.