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Four Men Accused Of Defrauding V.I. Government Through Rigged Property Auctions

Paul Sabers
Paul Sabers

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Arrest warrants have been issued for four men including one government worker for allegedly manipulating a public bidding process to defraud the territory’s government between 2012 and 2013, according to the Virgin Islands Attorney General.

Two men, businessman Edward McKenzie, 59, of Miami and former chief tax assessor enforcement officer Calford “Cappy” Charleswell of Anna’s Retreat, were arrested by police on Thursday and charged with conspiracy, theft and forgery charges in connection with the bid-rigging, Attorney General Claude Walker said.

“These arrests are the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General into the alleged fraudulent sale of real property at tax auctions conducted by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Tax Assessor’s Division,” Walker said.

The allegations are that between 2012 to 2013, McKenzie, Charleswell, real estate developer Paul Sabers of St. Thomas and Sylvester Warner of the Waste Management Authority were involved in a scheme to defraud the government of the Virgin Islands as a result of manipulating the public bidding process for the sale of real properties auction for delinquent property taxes, the attorney general said.

According to the arrest warrants, McKenzie was charged with conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretense, conversion of government property and being a member of a criminally-influenced and corrupt organization. McKenzie is accused of conspiring to illegally obtain real estate at a government property auction in 2012.

Charleswell was charged with conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false Pretense, fraudulent claims upon the government, conversion of government property, grand larceny, embezzlement by public and private officers, embezzlement or falsification of public Accounts, and being a member of a criminally-influenced and corrupt organization in an attempt to obtain real estate at a government property auction.

Sabers was expected to travel back to the territory Friday, when he would also be arrested, Walker said. The V.I. Department of Justice said that Warner had been arrested, but there was no report from police confirming the arrest.

Bail for McKenzie was set at $140,000.00 and bail for Charleswell was set at $200,000.00. Unable to post bail, each man was remanded to the Bureau of Corrections pending their Advice of Rights hearings.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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