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Former St. Croix Senator Wayne James Extradited Back To The Territory To Face Fraud Charges

wayne james arrested EDIT

   James as he was arrested in June

CHRISTIANSTED — Former St. Croix Senator Wayne James has been extradited from Italy to face corruption charges in the territory, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

James was charged in an October 2015 indictment with wire fraud and embezzlement from a federal program. He was arrested in Modena, Italy, in June and extradited to the United States mainland on Wednesday.

James served one term in the Virgin Islands Legislature from 2009 to 2011. He obtained federal funds for research into an 1878 uprising by freed slaves in St. Croix and is accused of diverting thousands of dollars of that money for his personal use.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe of the District of the Virgin Islands, Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Leff of the FBI’s San Juan Division and Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt made the announcement.

Wayne Anthony Gunnar James, 55, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, was indicted on Oct. 1, 2015, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of federal program embezzlement.

According to the indictment, from 2009 to 2011, James served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Youth, Education and Culture in the 28th Legislature of the Virgin Islands. While serving as the chair, James allegedly obtained tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the purpose of acquiring and translating historical documents related to the “Fireburn,” an 1878 uprising by freed slaves in St. Croix.

The indictment alleges that James submitted false documents to the legislature and received cash advances in order to conduct historical research on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands. James embezzled the cash advances for his own personal benefit instead of using them for the intended purposes, according to the indictment.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI, Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation are investigating the case. Trial Attorneys Amanda R. Vaughn and Justin D. Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of the Virgin Islands are prosecuting the case. Cristina M. Posa of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter.

After his arrest, Italian newspapers quoted his attorney saying that James denied the allegations.

wayne james in poster

Wayne James makes a business presentation in Italy.

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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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