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Sentencing Delayed for Simmonds on Corruption Charges

May 28, 2008 — Alric Simmonds, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, got a brief respite Wednesday from sentencing on corruption charges, which could place him in prison for anywhere from 20 to 100 years.
Simmonds was to be sentenced by Superior Court Judge James Carroll III. However, after meeting more than an hour with Simmonds and his attorney, public defender Harold Willocks, Carroll set the sentencing for 3 p.m. June 20.
When court convened a little after 11 a.m. Wednesday, Carroll announced that "matters that could not be discussed in open court" had come up. He said medical issues had to be resolved, and that he was awaiting information from the attorney general.
The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Speculation as to the cause of the delay ran high as folks waited outside the courtroom for the better part of two hours. A source in the legal system said later that Carroll was trying to determine whether medication Simmonds takes would be available at Golden Grove Prison on St. Croix.
Simmonds was arrested in April 2007 on charges of siphoning off nearly $1 million from a local government account over a four-year period for his own use. The charges stemmed from a seven-month investigation by the Office of the V.I. Inspector General.
After first pleading not guilty last April, Simmonds finally accepted an open plea agreement in November that could put him in jail for 20 years on charges of embezzlement, conversion of government funds and grand larceny. In the agreement, Simmonds pleaded guilty to eight counts of embezzlement, one count of conversion and two counts of grand larceny.
At the November hearing, Carroll cautioned that Simmonds would give up certain rights if he decided to plead guilty.
"If you plead guilty, I can still sentence you to any term within the range of the statute," Carroll said. "That means you could be facing a period of 10 years on each of the embezzlement counts, each of the grand larceny counts and five years on the one count of conversion. I'm not saying that I'm going to do it, but if the facts warrant it, you could be sentenced to the max."
According to law, the maximum sentence for one count of embezzlement or grand larceny is 10 years with a $100,000 fine. The conversion charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Simmonds has remained free after posting his home to meet a $100,000 bail requirement.
Seated alongside Willocks outside the courtroom early Wednesday, Simmonds appeared impassive. Asked if he would like to comment, he replied with a simple "no."
For a detailed account of the proceeding in Simmonds' case, see "Simmonds Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement, Faces 20 Years in Prison."
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