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UNCOMMON CRIMINAL? Former St. Croix Senator Wayne James Guilty of Government Corruption!

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – After a two-day trial and one day of deliberation a federal jury found former St. Croix Senator Wayne James guilty of official government corruption charges.

James, 56, formerly of the Virgin Islands Legislature, was found guilty of wire fraud and theft of federal program funds, United States Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced today.

Wayne James says: “Hi.”

U.S. District Judge Curtis Gomez remanded James into the custody of the U.S. Marshals after setting his sentencing for December 20, 2018.

In 2008, James was elected by the people of St. Croix to serve in the 28th Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

The evidence at trial showed that shortly after taking office, James received approval from the Legislature to conduct research on the 1878 Fireburn, an historic, post-slavery uprising that occurred while the territory was under Danish rule.

The “Fireburn” was a workers’ rebellion where four women, led by Queen Mary, set ablaze 50 sugarcane plantations to bring an end to poor working and living conditions of the plantation workers.

In April 2009, then-Senator James began submitting requests to the Virgin Islands Legislature for funds, ostensibly to pay for research, copying, and translation of Fireburn documents housed at the Danish National Archives.

Though James initially used the funds to pay for the research project, he soon thereafter began to defraud the people of this territory using an elaborate scheme of submitting fake invoices to secure funds.

The trial evidence further established that James’ fraudulent scheme was precipitated by his serious financial hardship, including garnishment of his Legislative salary.

As a result of a $197,000.00 tax levy, the Internal Revenue Bureau began garnishing James’ wages thereby reducing his bi-weekly $2,057.00 take-home pay to $509.00.

During the course of James’ fraudulent scheme, he caused the Legislature to pay him over $90,000, approximately $70,000 of which he kept for himself.

The evidence at trial also showed that James diverted the misappropriated funds to pay $20,000.00 for his re-election campaign expenses, and other personal expenses.

Though James received over 1,600 pages of Fireburn documents from the Danish National Archives, trial testimony demonstrated that he never delivered the documents to the Legislature of this territory. Instead, James kept the historical documents in order to further his future plans of becoming a screenwriter of the Fireburn movie.

“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Virgin Islands is committed to rooting out fraud and corruption in our government,” said United States Attorney Shappert. “The defendant’s betrayal of the people and his elected office is intolerable, and we will continue to pursue such abuses of the public trust. Here, the defendant exploited a precious piece of Virgin Islands history for his own purposes. And a Virgin Islands jury held him accountable.”

James, who is the brother to former St. Croix Senator Winfield James, is the only fashion designer-attorney to be ever elected to the Virgin Islands Legislature.

The case was investigated the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Virgin Islands Office of Inspector General.

It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Delia Smith, and Trial Attorneys Amanda Vaughn and Luke Cass of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

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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.


  1. afterwhilecrocodile
    August 18, 2018 at 11:29 AM — Reply

    Hallequah!!! This is a great day for the people of the US Virgin Islands…….
    Two former senators convicted so far in the vast scheme of government corruption…….
    Way to go, the people of the USVI has the last word : GUILTY

  2. Abio Harris
    September 4, 2018 at 10:53 AM — Reply

    Sorry to hear this news. James led a group of Amertcans to lay a moument to those who perished during the European Slave trade which I was a part of in . Am praying for you and God bless. Abio

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