Another AG 'resigns' over Bryan's Epstein affairs

Another AG ‘resigns’ over Bryan’s Epstein affairs

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith has resigned at the request of Governor Albert Bryan, once again leaving the territory’s Justice Department without a leader.

The press obtained a copy of Smith’s resignation letter, which was submitted Monday following a meeting with Bryan’s Chief of Staff Karl Knight, and makes it clear her resignation was essentially a termination.

“Per your specific request and based on my conversation with Chief Knight of March 11, 2024, I submit this letter of resignation effective Friday, March 15, 2024,” according to the letter.

Another AG 'resigns' over Bryan's Epstein affairs

Ariel Smith, center, flanked by son, Evan Watts and daughter, Kamille Grace Willis, is administered the oath of office by Chief Superior Court Judge Rhys Hodge, on June 30, making her the third person to hold the post in the administration of Governor Albert Bryan. The governor on Monday requested Smith’s resignation after just eight months on the job, and her last day as the territory’s top lawyer is Friday, but she has requested to remain at the Virgin Islands Justice Department in her former post as an assistant attorney general. (Government House photo)

Smith thanked Bryan for the opportunity to serve in the position for the last eight months, and asked that she continue to serve as an assistant attorney general, according to the letter.

Smith and spokespersons for the Justice Department have not responded to requests for comment from The Daily News.

Reports of Smith’s resignation began circulating Monday, but Government House Communications Director Richard Motta initially said she “is still the Attorney General.”

In response to additional questions, Motta said via text message Tuesday morning that, “I was alerted that she tendered her resignation last night effective March 15. That is all the information I have at this moment.”

Another AG 'resigns' over Bryan's Epstein affairs

Governor Albert Bryan has the dark shadow of Jeffrey Epstein hanging over his administration.

Government House issued a brief statement Tuesday afternoon, announcing the resignation.

“A search for a new attorney general will begin immediately. The governor and Attorney General Smith wish each other well in their future endeavors,” according to the statement.

The reasons for Smith’s departure have not been made public.

The Virgin Islands Justice Department has been struggling for years to pay bills and staff critical positions, while also engaging the private law firm of Motley Rice to pursue high-profile lawsuits against the estate of deceased millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his associates.

In January 2023, Bryan terminated former Attorney General Denise George, and named Carol Thomas-Jacobs acting attorney general. Bryan appointed Thomas-Jacobs to be a judge three months later, and chose Smith as her replacement.

While Motta said that George was fired because of long-time issues with the Justice Department, George testified in a deposition in July that Bryan pressured her to reinstate a waiver of certain travel reporting requirements for Epstein.

Speaking about Epstein, “I realized there was some political maneuvering that he was doing. Just the fact that he as a sex offender got the governor to come to me for that request, which is unusual,” George testified, according to a partial deposition transcript released publicly as part of the Virgin Islands government’s lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase bank.

In addition, Motta has not responded to questions about whether Virgin Islands Police Commissioner Ray Martinez is on active duty or administrative leave, following reports that he may have fired a gun during a recent manhunt on St. Thomas. Virgin Islands Police spokesman Glen Dratte also has not responded to repeated questions from the press about Martinez’s employment status.