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Arrests Made in Scheme to Defraud USVI Government of Half a Million Dollars in Pandemic Relief Funds

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Suspects Kenyetta Riddick and Andrew John, as captured in their booking photos. Courtesy of the Virgin Islands Police Department.

The Economic Crime Unit of the Virgin Islands Police Department has recently unveiled a significant breakthrough in a fraud case that shook the community. On Thursday, officials disclosed the arrest of Kenyetta Riddick and Andrew John, implicating them in a sophisticated scheme to siphon $500,000 from the Government of the Virgin Islands’ Covid Economic Stimulus account.

The case opened on June 9, 2023, prompted by a diligent complaint from the Office of Management and Budget, setting off a thorough investigation. The collaborative efforts of the Department of Finance and the OMB through meticulous audits brought to light the illicit withdrawals spanning several months from the pivotal 2020 GVI Covid Economic Stimulus Account.

On February 2, 2024, the authorities secured arrest warrants for the duo, culminating in their apprehension on February 7. Riddick was intercepted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, and John was apprehended at the Police Administration Building.

The charges against Riddick and John are severe and multifaceted, reflecting the gravity of their alleged crimes. They face allegations under the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, including engaging in frauds on creditors, securing money under false pretenses, making fraudulent claims against the government, exploiting computer systems for fraud, and grand larceny, with bail set at $100,000 each.

Following their inability to post bail, both individuals have been detained at the Golden Grove Detention Facility, awaiting the next steps in their legal proceedings with their Advise of Rights hearing on the horizon.

This case underscores the vigilant efforts of the USVI authorities in safeguarding public funds and ensuring accountability, especially during times of crisis when the community’s welfare is paramount. The ongoing investigation reaffirms the commitment of Governor Bryan’s administration to transparency, justice, and the rigorous protection of the territory’s fiscal integrity.

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Crime

Law Enforcement Swiftly Captures Suspect in Christiansted Robbery Spree

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Following a series of robbery incidents in Christiansted on February 20, the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) demonstrated remarkable efficiency by arresting 28-year-old Koi Thomas. The alarming events, reported to the emergency services in close succession at approximately 10:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., prompted a swift and thorough response from the VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau detectives.

Eyewitness accounts from the victims were crucial in the investigation, enabling law enforcement to quickly gather surveillance footage pinpointing Thomas as the perpetrator. In a fortunate turn of events, Thomas had been apprehended earlier the same day on unrelated larceny charges in the Gallows Bay area, and was already under detention at the John Bell Correctional Facility.

Detectives visited the correctional facility on February 22, where they officially charged Thomas with two counts of third-degree robbery. Subsequently, Thomas was processed at the Wilbur H. Francis Command Police Station, with his bail determined at $25,000.

Despite Thomas’s court hearing being scheduled for the following Friday, information pertaining to his legal proceedings had yet to be disclosed publicly by Sunday. This arrest underscores the vigilance and dedication of the Virgin Islands law enforcement in maintaining public safety and swiftly addressing criminal activities.

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Crime

Tragic Shooting in St. Thomas Leaves Young Man Dead

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A tragic incident unfolded in the Bovoni Housing Community of St. Thomas late on Thursday night, claiming the life of a young resident. Omar K. Fontaine, a 20-year-old local, fell victim to a lethal shooting, succumbing to multiple gunshot wounds.

The incident was detected by the ShotSpotter Detection System, which notified the V.I. Police Department of the gunfire at precisely 11:11 p.m. Officers from the Mariel C. Newton Command swiftly responded to the alert and discovered Fontaine unresponsive. Despite the prompt arrival of emergency medical technicians, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fontaine’s untimely death has sparked a thorough investigation by the Major Crimes Unit of the VIPD, which is determined to bring those responsible to justice. The police are appealing to the community for assistance, encouraging anyone with information to step forward. Contributions can be made directly to the Major Crimes Unit at 340-642-8449, through a call to 911, or by submitting tips anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8476 or online through their tip form.

This devastating event underscores the urgent need for community cooperation and vigilance in combating violence and safeguarding our neighborhoods.

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Crime

Police Detain Suspect in Shooting Incident Near St. Croix Fire Station

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The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) announced the successful apprehension of 19-year-old Malyki Lockhart on Thursday, in a significant development related to a shooting attempt incident from September 10, 2023.

This operation, a collaborative effort by the VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau and the Special Operations Bureau, underscores the department’s commitment to maintaining public safety and bringing those accused of serious crimes to justice.

The arrest stems from an alarming episode that unfolded near the Richmond fire station on St. Croix. A man recounted a harrowing experience of being targeted by gunfire from an approaching vehicle, with the assailant identified as Lockhart, who allegedly opened fire while leaning out of the car.

In the wake of a meticulous investigation, it was concluded that Lockhart had purportedly been at the helm of the vehicle during the attack. This led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for first-degree attempted murder and a search warrant for his residence on February 14. The court set bail at $100,000.

Upon executing the search and arrest warrants, Lockhart was taken into custody. Given the inability to secure bail, he was subsequently detained at the John Bell Correctional Facility. He awaits an Advice of Rights Hearing slated for Friday at the V.I. Superior Court, where he will be formally apprised of the charges levied against him.

This arrest highlights the relentless efforts of law enforcement to protect the community and ensure that justice is served, reflecting the VIPD’s dedication to upholding law and order in the face of criminal activities.

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