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Encarnacion Testifies in Dowe Fraud Trial

Sept. 28, 2005 – Sen. Pedro Encarnacion, the former Fire Service director, took the witness stand Wednesday and testified that he signed alleged fraudulent payments in excess of $100,000 to ex-senator and former Fire Service director Carlton Dowe without a second thought because Encarnacion trusted his staff.
Encarnacion's testimony for the prosecution came in the third day of Dowe's fraud trial. Encarnacion said he had no inkling Dowe had already collected $50,000 in pay owed to him and was, as prosecutors contend, double-billing the Virgin Islands government.
"I have total confidence in my staff," Encarnacion said repeatedly, adding that he did not re-calculate the figures or question them, saying he was not an accountant.
Dowe, 48, was charged in August 2004 with two counts of wire fraud for allegedly over billing the U.S. Virgin Islands government more than $75,000 in March of 2001.
Dowe won a legal settlement from the government in 2001 along with seven other fire service executives that awarded him a pay raise for college degrees. Dowe, who has pleaded not guilty, collected the pay raise twice, prosecutors allege.
If found guilty, Dowe could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The jury trial started Monday afternoon.
Shortly after Encarnacion's testimony, Linda Herbert, a former certifying officer with the fire department who routinely signed expense and payment vouchers, said she found the payment to Dowe highly suspicious and called the documents in question to Encarnacion's attention.
Herbert said she did not re-calculate the payment numbers, but did find it odd that Dowe paid former fire service accountant Rosalie Corrcino an "enormous amount of overtime."
Corrcino testified Tuesday that she helped Dowe arrange payroll paperwork to collect more than $103,000 — some $75,000 more than prosecutors say he was entitled to.
Corrcino said she didn't know Dowe had already collected some $50,000 and didn't think she was breaking the law, as prosecutors allege.
Corrcino said she accepted $300 cash and a $300 check from Dowe for her service. She testified that she suspected something was wrong in January 2002, when Dowe asked her to meet him in a parking lot to coach her on how to lie to federal investigators.
Corrcino testified that she initially lied to the investigators, claiming no one had instructed her to process the payments to Dowe.
After two interviews with officials from the Virgin Islands' Inspector General's office, Corrcino agreed to secretly tape record two conversations with Dowe, she testified.
Prosecutors also played a 107-minute videotape of investigators interviewing Dowe on Feb. 14, 2002.
The rambling videotaped conversations hit a dramatic peak when investigators presented Dowe with evidence that he double-billed the government.
Dowe responded on the tape that the records were incomplete, and that investigators were not getting the whole story.
The trial is expected to continue Thursday.

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