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Virgin Islands National Guard Commander Aesha Rivers Accused Fraudulent Use Of Funds Released On Unsecured Bond

CHRISTIANSTED – A former Virgin Islands National Guard (VING) major and acting commander made an initial appearance in federal court on Monday on charges that she has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Aesha Rivers, 41, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge George Cannon after being indicted on 75 counts of wire fraud, theft of government money, and making a false statement to the government, Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett.

Cannon released Rivers, who is the former acting commander of the V.I. National Guard’s 23rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team on an unsecured bond, Hewlett said.

According to the indictment, Rivers knowingly devised a scheme to unlawfully use her Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) to obtain government money, by means of wire, that she was not entitled to receive.

Rivers was a member Virgin Islands National Guard (VING) and between June 1, 2011, and June 20, 2015, she applied for and received OHA funds by submitting fraudulent applications for federal funds.

If convicted, Rivers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud counts; 10 years in prison for theft of government money; and five years in prison for making
a false statement.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Army CID–Major Procurement Fraud Unit.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Vlasova.

Hewlett said that an indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not in and of itself evidence of guilt.

“Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty,” she said.

ROLLING OUT THE GREEN CARPET: Former Virgin Islands National Guard (VING) commander Aesha Rivers sees herself as a glamorous fashion model and often put herself on display at local pageants in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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