July 12, 2006 – Two of the three men charged last month with conspiracy to defraud the V.I. government of $1.4 million have pleaded guilty to engaging in an elaborate bribery and kickback scheme that cost the territory $1.1 million.
Earl E. Brewley, a former V.I. Fire Services employee; and Esmond J. Modeste, the purported project manager of Elite Technical Services, a fictitious company, pleaded guilty Wednesday, according to a release from the U.S. Justice Department.
According to charging documents, in early 2000 Brewley, Modeste, DPNR official Hollis Griffin and others formed Elite. They then allegedly used the company, and other companies, to secure at least seven government contracts valued at approximately $1.4 million (See DPNR Official, Two Others, Charged in Bribery and Fraud Scheme).
Although almost no work was performed, payments were made on contracts totaling more than $1.1 million to Elite and the other companies. After the money was paid, bribes and kickbacks ranging from $300,000 to $350,000 were allegedly made to at least four territorial government officials, including Griffin, then director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. The other three officials were referred to in the charging documents as government officials A, B, and C. (The release did not have any further information about the status of the government's case against Griffin or the three unnamed officials.)
The documents also reveal that Brewley and Modeste engaged in a five-year conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. They also engaged in mail fraud, and structuring currency transactions to avoid triggering a bank-reporting requirement, when paying the alleged kickbacks.
The case remains under investigation by a joint task force, which includes the FBI, U.S. Treasury Department/Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the V.I. Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of the Inspector General.
The case is being jointly prosecuted by Armando O. Borilla of the U.S. Justice Department, Criminal Division; and Major R. Coleman, executive U.S. attorney, V.I. District. Griffin, Brewley and Modeste face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and $1.4 million in forfeiture.
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