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Arrest Made in Car Theft Case at St. John Rental Service

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Official mugshot of Kassahun Stapleton-Harris, released by the Virgin Islands Police Department.

A former employee of a St. John car rental service, identified as Kassahun Stapleton-Harris, is now facing serious legal repercussions after allegedly taking a vehicle without permission from the business’s lot.

The incident came to light on a recent Sunday afternoon when authorities were summoned to the Cool Breeze Car Rental facility to look into a reported vehicle theft. The company’s supervisor relayed to the officers that an individual had spotted Stapleton-Harris exiting the Cool Breeze premises in a Jeep Wrangler, described as being green or turquoise, heading in the direction of Coral Bay about 30 minutes prior to the police being notified. The supervisor further clarified that Stapleton-Harris, once an employee, was not authorized to use any of the rental vehicles post-employment.

Despite an extensive search proving initially unproductive, law enforcement officials located the missing vehicle in the vicinity of Bordeaux Mountain later that evening, around 7:00 p.m. Subsequently, on Tuesday, Stapleton-Harris was found at the Leander Jurgen Command police station. The circumstances surrounding his presence at the station remain ambiguous, with court filings not clarifying whether he was detained by the police or appeared voluntarily.

During his interaction with the police, Stapleton-Harris was designated as a suspect in the investigation concerning the stolen Cool Breeze car. He reportedly declined to acknowledge his Miranda rights yet purportedly confessed to taking the vehicle, claiming a need to take a shower as his motive.

The arrest of Stapleton-Harris presented challenges, necessitating the involvement of four officers to subdue and handcuff him due to his alleged lack of cooperation. Following the arrest, he was transported to St. Thomas, where charges were formally pressed against him for unauthorized vehicle use and obstructing a police officer’s duties. He was detained, pending a preliminary hearing to discuss his legal rights.

In a recent court session, Magistrate Simone VanHolten-Turnbull granted a pre-trial release to Stapleton-Harris, though specific conditions of the release have not been disclosed to the public. His next court date is slated for April 19, where further proceedings in the case will take place.

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Crime

BVI Pastor and Radio Host Arrested on Allegations of Fraudulent Government Contracts

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Claude Skelton Cline, a well-known pastor and radio personality in the British Virgin Islands, has been arrested and charged with obtaining property by deception, false accounting, and proceeds of crime.

The arrest follows an announcement from former Governor John Rankin last March, revealing that an audit, recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, scrutinized government contracts awarded to Cline between 2008 and 2010. According to Rankin, the audit uncovered “failures in good governance and improper use of public funds.” The findings were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the police.

BVI police stated that Cline’s arrest on Friday culminated an 18-month criminal investigation initiated by the audit’s findings. The audit revealed that Cline received over $350,000 during this period with negligible results from his consultancy work, leading auditors to conclude that the contracts primarily benefited Cline financially rather than providing value to the government.

“The government failed to receive value for money on these contracts,” the report stated. In response to the public disclosure of the audit findings last year, Cline asserted his innocence, claiming, “I did a phenomenal job for my part in a two-part contractual arrangement.” He further stated, “I feel no compunction to defend myself.”

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Joseph Anthony Ramirez Faces Attempted Murder Charges After Assaulting Officers in St. Croix

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At the Candido Guadalupe Housing Complex in St. Croix, a report of domestic violence on Sunday afternoon quickly turned perilous for responding officers, culminating in attempted murder charges for 37-year-old Joseph Anthony Ramirez.

The sequence of events unfolded when the Virgin Islands Police Department received a call around 2:33 p.m. from the 911 Emergency Call Center regarding a disturbance at apartment 85, building 7. Upon arrival, officers were informed by the victim that Ramirez had vandalized her apartment. As one officer began to investigate, Ramirez unexpectedly attacked, initiating an assault by placing the officer in a chokehold, threatening his ability to breathe.

The attack escalated even after a good Samaritan and the victim intervened, enabling the officer to momentarily escape. Despite being informed of his arrest, Ramirez attacked again, this time inflicting a severe laceration above the officer’s eyelid and resuming the chokehold. The situation required backup, with two additional officers arriving at the scene before Ramirez could be subdued and arrested.

Charged with attempted murder and third-degree assault, Ramirez was subsequently read his Miranda Rights, booked, and transported to the John Bell Correctional Facility. Unable to meet the initial $100,000 bail, Ramirez was held until a court hearing on Tuesday where his bail was reduced to $10,000. He remains in custody, with a bail hearing scheduled for later today, May 15.

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St. Croix Woman Faces Felony Charges for Neglecting Children While Partying

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A St. Croix woman, Ana Felix, has been charged with felony child neglect after her children were reportedly left unattended while she attended a party. This incident came to light when a 3-year-old boy was discovered wandering alone at Breezewood Villas apartment complex late on Thursday, May 9.

At around 10:30 p.m., responding to a distress call about the toddler, police were directed by a neighbor who had noticed the child around 9 p.m. The neighbor, realizing the child was unsupervised and inadequately dressed, provided a diaper and alerted authorities.

Upon investigating the apartment indicated by the neighbor, officers found it unoccupied except for a sleeping 10-year-old girl. She initially claimed her mother was at work but later revealed that her mother had gone to a party and was not expected back until morning. Attempts to contact Felix using multiple phone numbers found in the apartment were unsuccessful.

Community members expressed repeated concerns about the children’s welfare, describing previous instances where they intervened to provide care for Felix’s children due to her absence. The officers were able to contact the children’s father, who was unaware of the situation but came promptly to collect his children.

While awaiting his arrival, police discovered the children lacked basic necessities and could not secure their home due to a missing key. The maintenance supervisor at the complex reported previous similar incidents involving the older child, stating he had considered reporting Felix to the Department of Human Services.

The following day, Felix appeared at the Wilbur Francis Command Police Station claiming her children were taken. During a subsequent phone conversation with the police, she admitted to frequently leaving her children alone at home, citing a lack of support and child care assistance.

Felix was arrested on Friday, May 10, when she returned to her residence. Initially held on a $50,000 bail, there is no current information available on the outcome of her advice of rights hearing, which took place on April 13 before Magistrate Ernest Morris, or any adjustments to her bail conditions pending trial.

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