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Federal Charges Brought Against St. Croix Business Owners Over PPP Loan Misuse

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Island Services Group LLC’s Kimberly McCollum.

The United States Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of Delia L. Smith, has unveiled charges against St. Croix’s own Kimberly McCollum and Morris Anselmi. The duo, helming Island Services Group, faces allegations regarding the misappropriation of $500,000 in federal funds designated for Coronavirus relief efforts. Following her initial appearance in court, presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge Emile Henderson, III, McCollum has been granted release on a $500,000 bond.

These charges are linked to the duo’s dealings with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a crucial component of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted by Congress in March 2020. The CARES Act was designed to deliver urgent financial assistance to American citizens and businesses grappling with the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the PPP offering forgivable loans to small businesses to support job retention and other essential expenses.

The prosecution claims that in the years 2020 and 2021, McCollum and Anselmi engaged in a calculated fraud, acquiring a PPP loan of $989,400 under deceitful pretenses for their St. Croix venture. It is further alleged that McCollum diverted half a million dollars into her personal account, channeling these funds towards settling the debts of another business she owned and purchasing a $200,000 annuity.

Moreover, the pair is accused of applying for loan forgiveness with the Small Business Administration (SBA), dishonestly claiming the loan was expended for its legitimate purposes, while allegedly a portion was utilized for personal benefits.

Adding to the allegations, Anselmi is implicated in acquiring a condo worth about $250,000, a property transferred from McCollum, which is purported to be part of the fraudulent scheme. Anselmi awaits his initial court appearance, the date of which remains to be scheduled.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is spearheading the inquiry into these serious allegations, with Assistant United States Attorney Evan Rikhye at the helm of the prosecution effort.

Delia L. Smith, the United States Attorney, underscores that an indictment is merely a formal charge and not indicative of guilt. The accused individuals retain the presumption of innocence until potentially proven guilty in a court of law through a process that respects the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law.

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Crime

Former Deputy Park Superintendent of St. Croix Sentenced for Property Conversion and Fraud

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ST. CROIX, VI – Gregory Camacho, 43, previously Deputy Park Superintendent for the National Park Service in St. Croix, received a sentence of nine months of home detention and four years of probation for unlawfully converting property, according to U.S. Attorney for the USVI, Delia L. Smith. The sentencing was handed down by District Judge Wilma A. Lewis on Thursday.

In addition to home detention and probation, Judge Lewis imposed a $6,000 fine and a special assessment of $75 on Camacho. He was also ordered to pay restitution amounting to $29,502.20 to the National Park Service.

According to court filings, Camacho, during his tenure as acting park superintendent from June 2019 to August 2020, occupied two housing units owned by the National Park Service without fulfilling rental payments, causing a loss of $14,192.10. In another instance in July 2019, Camacho deceitfully claimed relocation expenses for his family’s move from Titusville, FL, to St. Croix, even though he moved alone. This action led to unjust reimbursements totaling $13,387.50.

Furthermore, between October 2018 and September 2019, Camacho was found to have submitted overlapping travel vouchers for the same trips from his primary duty station, resulting in an additional $1,922.50 in improper gains.

These findings were brought to light through an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, with the case prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel H. Huston.

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Crime

Daylight Assault in St. Thomas Leaves Man Injured

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A distressing incident unfolded on St. Thomas when a man suffered injuries in a daylight assault in Simmonds Alley, according to a statement from the V.I. Police Department. The attack occurred on Wednesday around 12:15 p.m.

Authorities were alerted to the situation when the 911 Emergency Call Center received a call about a man found bleeding from the neck near the Jala Jala establishment on Kronprindsens Gade. Responding officers discovered the victim with a severe laceration on the left side of his neck, believed to be the result of the assault.

Despite the seriousness of his injuries, the victim refrained from providing a statement to law enforcement at the scene. He was quickly transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center for medical attention.

The VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau has taken charge of the investigation and is urging the public to assist by providing any relevant information. Individuals can contact the CIB at (340) 774-2211 or call 911. For those preferring to stay anonymous, tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers USVI by calling 1-800-222-8477 or online.

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Crime

Six Arrests Made in St. Thomas Drug Trafficking Crackdown

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ST. THOMAS — A targeted joint operation by the Virgin Islands Police Department, alongside the Drug Enforcement Agency and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, resulted in the arrest of six men accused of drug-related crimes in the Red Hook area, a noted hub for illegal narcotics activity.

Throughout February, these coordinated efforts focused on dismantling drug trafficking networks, culminating in several key arrests:

  • N’Kel Morton, 30, was taken into custody at Red Hook Plaza on March 8, 2024, facing charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
  • On March 7, 2024, Jaamal Bell, 42, was arrested at American Yacht Harbor, charged with intent to distribute narcotics.
  • Peter Francis Jr., 33, encountered the same fate at the same location, on identical charges.
  • Anwar Lockhart, 40, was arrested on March 15, 2024, on Cassi Hill for cocaine distribution.
  • Niah Henry, 35, was apprehended on March 16, 2024, at Red Hook Plaza, with charges similar to Morton’s.
  • Kenson Plasimond, 43, was arrested on March 7, 2024, at Tutu Park Mall, also charged with possession with intent to distribute.

These arrests signify a continued commitment by local and federal law enforcement to curb the flow of illegal drugs in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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