May 7, 2002 The territory's former top narcotics officer was convicted Tuesday of perjuring himself by falsely testifying about his past when he was on trial for police brutality last year.
A jury in U.S. District Court found Wayne Chinnery guilty of four counts of perjury. Chinnery was known as the "drug czar" when he served in 1999 and 2000 as the governor's drug policy adviser and head of the police Narcotics Strike Force.
The jury found that Chinnery lied during his October 2001 trial when he told jurors that he received a bachelor's degree from Hofstra University, had a law degree from Hofstra, that he was an attorney and had worked as an attorney for law firms in the Virgin Islands.
Evidence at the two-day perjury trial this week showed that Chinnery never graduated from any college or university, never attended law school and failed the Virgin Islands Bar examination.
"This case is about getting the truth," Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins told jurors. "If a jury doesn't get the truth, it can't make the proper decision."
Chinnery, a former candidate for governor and for the Virgin Islands Senate, was on trial in October 2001 on charges that he beat a woman with his pistol while on a Narcotics Strike Force sweep in Hospital Ground. He testified in that trial about his qualifications to head the Narcotics Strike Force and said he did not use his pistol to hit the woman.
Chinnery testified at the time that he was justified in using force as a law-enforcement officer. A jury acquitted him of all charges in that case.
Jenkins said Chinnery lied about his background to build his credibility before the jury. Chinnery had no previous law-enforcement experience and no college degree, which Virgin Islands law requires for a person to serve as drug czar.
Defense attorney George Hodge said Chinnery admitted that he had lied on the witness stand, but the false testimony was not material to the charges of assaulting the woman.
Although this week's jury found that Chinnery perjured himself during the assault trial, he cannot be tried again on the earlier charge because it would violate his constitutional rights against being placed in double jeopardy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugh Mabe said.
Chinnery faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for perjury. District Judge Thomas Moore has not set a sentencing date.
Gov. Charles Turnbull removed Chinnery from his duties as drug czar in 2000 shortly after Chinnery was charged with domestic violence in connection with an assault on his former girlfriend. Those charges were later dropped when the woman testified that Chinnery had not hit her.
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