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DOUBLE DIPPING! Florida Man Uses Found VIPA Checks As A $93,000 Windfall For Himself And Co-Workers

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Florida man repairing hurricane-damaged property for the Virgin Islands Port Authority in St. Thomas discovered blank marine revenue checks in a filing cabinet and hand-wrote at least $93,000 in checks to himself and co-workers.

Alain Rodriguez Rionda, 39, of Miami was arrested on a Superior Court warrant charging him of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, forgery and obtaining money under false pretenses, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

VIPD mugshot of Alain Rodriguez Rionda of Miami, Florida

Rodriguez Rionda was identified in part by surveillance video as the person who cashed, possessed and forged several checks belonging to Virgin Islands Port Authority Marine Revenue Division, according to the VIPD.

On June 11, 2019 an employee of the V.I. Port Authority reported that several checks belonging to the authority were stolen and cashed for an amount estimated between $90,000 and $95,200, VIDOJ investigators said.

The stolen checks had several names on them, including Rodriguez Rionda’s, and other employees of Alpero, a company subcontracted by Lemartec to complete roof repairs to the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas.

Lemartec Corporation is a Florida-based construction firm that was hired by VIPA to do repairs to its administrative buildings and the St. Thomas airport following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Bail for Rodriguez Rionda was set at $250,000. Unable to post bail, he was remanded to the custody of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections (BOC).

Rodriguez Rionda was advised of his rights in Superior Court by Magistrate Carolyn Hermon-Purcell on Thursday, according to V.I. Attorney General Denise George.

V.I. Attorney General Denise George
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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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 50 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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