Nov. 19, 2002 – A man charged with slashing telephone lines on St. Croix a month ago has no apparent connection to Innovative Telephone, Innovative Cable TV or their more than 300 employees who have been on strike since Oct. 2.
Julio Davis III, 20, was arrested on Sunday on federal charges of destruction of communication lines used for military and civil defense functions as well as local charges of destruction of property, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Hugh Mabe.
Davis appeared in District Court on Monday for a bail hearing. "What came out at the initial appearance is the fact that he is employed at the Divi hotel facility," Mabe said, referring to the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino.
Bail was set at $10,000 in cash or property, Mabe said. He would not comment on whether Davis is connected in any way to Innovative.
Innovative Telephone spokesman Thomas Dunn said no connection has been established, "but I'm sure that's something they're checking on."
The criminal complaint against Davis alleges that he was seen cutting telephone lines with a machete early in the morning of Oct. 20 near Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"The chopping of fiber-optic cables disrupted communications services to several Innovative Telephone company clients," the statement said, "including the radio antenna facility on St. Croix's East End which provides information to the military."
If convicted of the federal charges, Davis could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The territorial destruction of property charge carries a maximum of one year in prison and a $200 fine.
In the release, U.S. Attorney David Nissman commended the FBI "for its investigation of this case." Mabe would not comment on whether the FBI is involved in other investigations of vandalism against Innovative.
There have been repeated reports of sabotage of Innovative cable and phone lines, affecting thousands of customers, in the seven weeks since some 310 members of the International Steelworkers of America went on strike after contract talks with Innovative broke down. Innovative has offered a reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons or persons involved in the vandalism.
Dunn said Davis's arrest was based on FBI surveillance and that the reward still stands.
On Monday, in the latest reported vandalism, more than 175 Innovative Telephone customers lost service in the Mary's Fancy area on St. Croix, Dunn said. He said he expected repairs to be completed on Tuesday.
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