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Ten Virgin Islands Women Indicted On Tax Fraud Charges



       INDICTED: Nisha Brathwaite

CHRISTIANSTED – The last of 10 Virgin Islands women indicted by a federal grand jury on tax-related charges made her initial appearance on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon on St. Croix, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

The remaining nine women made their initial appearances last week, and all of them were released pending trial.

On September 15, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a 119-count indictment against the women, charging them with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, Theft of Government Property and Aggravated Identity Theft.

The women were identified in the indictment as Joanne V. Benjamin, 36; Sylvia P. Benjamin, 36; Lynell Hughes, 33; Thema Liverpool, 28; Jacinta A. Gussie, 54; Indica Greenidge, 25; Nisha Brathwaite, 35; Darleen Thompson, 34; Nicolette Alexander, 25; and Sheba Rashida Young, 40.

Seven of the women: Sylvia Benjamin, Brathwaite, Gussie, Hughes, Liverpool, Young and Joanne Benjamin made their initial appearances before Judge Cannon on St. Croix. Greenidge and Alexander made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and Thompson made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory J. Kelly in Orlando, Florida.

The 119-count indictment is the result of years of investigative work by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, which conducted a probe into a massive stolen identity/tax refund fraud scheme, Sharpe said.

According to the indictment, the scheme involved the filing of numerous false income tax returns, the use of stolen identifications and the designation of illegal refunds to the women’s bank accounts.

The scheme resulted in the payment of illegal income tax refunds totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.

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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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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