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Cruz Bay
Wednesday, July 17, 2024


May 29, 2001 – Sen. Celestino White, chair of the Senate Housing, Parks and Recreation Committee, said Tuesday he will proceed with plans for a second hearing into allegations of corruption within the territory's three housing agencies. However, he said he will not tolerate attempts to malign the reputations of housing officials.
White has repeatedly accused Sen. Lorraine Berry, a member of his committee, and Alphonse Nibbs, a former committee staff member and also a former executive director of the V.I. Housing Authority, of seeking to "attempt to impugn the character and integrity" of the heads of the three agencies.
The three are Conrad "Ricky" Francois, executive director of the V.I. Housing Authority; Ira Hobson, commissioner of the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department; and Claude Richards, director of the Housing Finance Authority.
Berry has stated, also repeatedly, that her request for a hearing into reported problems within the housing agencies came as the result of Nibbs's public allegations.
White said he doubts the anticipated testimony will be pertinent to corruption. "I have worked with all three men," he said of Francois, Hobson and Richards. "We know of the shortcomings in public housing. Why should we equate deficiencies to criminal conduct?"
The next scheduled meeting of White's committee is on June 11. Nibbs was subpoenaed to appear at the committee's first hearing on the housing agencies, on May 21. He said in advance that he would not be able to attend, because he already had a date that day in New Orleans to testify in another court case.
Nibbs said he'll testify at the June 11 hearing — unless something more important comes up. "The good Lord willing and barring any unusual circumstances, I am looking forward to the hearing," he said. "If I am here, I will attend."
Nibbs has said publicly that he testified before the federal grand jury that returned fraud indictments against three people, including one who was under contract with a housing agency earlier this year.

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