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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Richardson Dangleben for Detective Phipps’ Murder

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ST. THOMAS – The U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, Delia L. Smith, revealed today that a federal grand jury has issued a 13-count indictment against Richardson Dangleben, Jr. in relation to the fatal shooting of V.I.P.D. Detective Delberth Phipps on July 4, 2023.

U.S. Attorney Smith expressed a firm stance against violence towards law enforcement officials, asserting that such acts would encounter decisive legal repercussions, pursued to the maximum extent of the law.

Echoing the sentiment, Virgin Islands Attorney General Ariel Smith stated that the tragic loss of Officer Phipps, who courageously confronted a criminal act underway, reverberates throughout the community, underscoring the imperative for justice reflective of his ultimate sacrifice. The V.I. Department of Justice (VIDOJ) anticipates sustained collaboration with the USDOJ to uphold justice within the Virgin Islands community.

St. Thomas-St. John Police Chief Steven Phillip acknowledged the community’s united front in seeking justice for the slain detective. He highlighted the indictment as a significant stride, attributing it to the unwavering dedication of the law enforcement community, whose relentless efforts have been instrumental in holding the accused accountable. Expressing heartfelt appreciation for the unwavering support from the community, he reassured that no stone would be left unturned in securing justice for Detective Phipps and his bereaved family, as they collectively strive for a safer, peaceful community.

Joseph Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office, reinforced the agency’s commitment to combating violence and ensuring justice. He paid tribute to Detective Phipps’ heroism and pledged staunch support to the bereaved, vowing fervent investigation to bring the culprits to justice.

Court records divulge that on the morning of July 4, 2023, VIPD Detective Phipps, alongside VIPD Officer Shahim Skeete, responded to a distress call reporting a potentially armed individual in St. Thomas’ Hospital Ground vicinity. The encounter escalated into a gunfire exchange, during which Detective Phipps sustained a fatal gunshot wound. The accused, Dangleben, was apprehended and received medical attention for gunshot injuries at the Schneider Regional Medical Center, where Detective Phipps was later pronounced dead.

The scene bore witness to an assault rifle and additional evidence from Dangleben’s vehicle: two rifle magazines, ample assault rifle ammunition, a loaded .45 caliber handgun with an erased serial number, and over 300 grams of marijuana.

The extensive federal indictment encompasses charges ranging from first-degree murder to possession of firearms amid a drug trafficking endeavor, reflecting the severity of the offenses. Dangleben, detained in federal custody post the incident, was on pretrial release for a prior shooting death at the time of the July 4 episode, revealing a breach of his release terms prohibiting firearm possession.

U.S. Attorney Smith reiterated that an indictment merely represents accusations, maintaining Dangleben’s presumption of innocence unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigative endeavor was a collaborative effort between the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Conley spearheading the government’s case.

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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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