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Saturday, July 20, 2024


An internal investigation into fraud at the V.I. Housing Authority has resulted in the dismissal of four employees and the suspension of another.
According to VIHA Executive Director Conrad Francois, those fired duplicated payments to vendors for the repair of vacant housing units on St. Croix. Francois said the duplicate payments were recovered, but declined to give an amount, saying only that it was "substantial."
"We had a Department of Interior independent audit and discovered the duplicate payments," Francois said. "I can’t repeat the amount at this moment but the figure is substantial."
VIHA is a semi-autonomous government agency that has its own property and procurement guidelines and policies. Following the fraud incident, Francois said the system has been revamped.
"We thought we had those checks and balances in place. Obviously someone found a way around," he said. "I think we’ve pretty much isolated the problem but it’s not completely closed yet."
The employees in question have three working days to appeal Francois’ action to the VIHA board of commissioners. The nine-member board is made up of two Cabinet members, three people from the private sector and four public housing residents.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear whether the U.S. Attorney’s Office was going to prosecute the employees. Because VIHA receives much of its funding from Washington, fraud cases fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice.
A Government House spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

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