Virgin Islands Police Capt. Enrique Saldana, head of the St. Thomas-St. John Criminal Investigation Bureau, was arrested with two others Tuesday on charges including extortion under cover of official right and soliciting bribes.
Saldana, 46, Police Sgt. George Greene, Jr. and Louis Roldan Jr., a civilian, were arrested after a federal grand jury on St. Thomas returned an 11-count indictment against them, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. According to the DOJ in St. Thomas, the federal charges are obstruction of justice, obstruction of a criminal investigation, extortion, conspiracy to commit the aforementioned crimes and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The Virgin Islands charges are conspiratorial extortion, conflict of interest, and solicitation and receipt of a bribe; extortion under color of official right; conflict of interest; solicitation and receipt of a bribe, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Upon being informed of the indictments, acting Police Commissioner Novelle Francis placed both officers on immediate leave without pay, briefed Gov. John deJongh Jr. on the arrests and began an Internal Affairs investigation, according to a statement from the V.I. Police Department.
Francis said he would stand behind every officer who upheld the law and their oath of office.
"However, any officer who violates the same law that they have been entrusted to uphold will find no support from me or this department when they are found to be involved in criminal wrongdoing," he said. "Certainly, these officers are innocent until proven guilty, but this news is obviously a blow to the many hard working members of VIPD who have been improving the department’s overall public image to the communities that we serve."
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Paul Murphy said this indictment and the May indictment of V.I. Police Officer Jerome Blyden arose out of months of investigative work by a federal task force investigating police corruption. Blyden, a St. Thomas police officer, was arrested in May and charged with racketeering, attempted murder and several other crimes. Federal officials allege Blyden acted as an enforcer for a group smuggling cocaine into the United States.
The indictment against Saldana, Green and Roldan alleges when police officers seized a rental car from the Paul M. Pearson Housing Community around Dec. 4, they confiscated personal items and about a kilogram of "a substance believed by VIPD officials to be a controlled substance," according to DOJ.
When the people renting and using the car went to the police department the next day to get their property, they were told by a police official to contact Saldana and that the official and others knew about what was in the car, referring to "the substance suspected to be a controlled substance."
That day, the car’s driver got a telephone call from Saldana about arranging a meeting to return the car’s contents. They didn’t meet then but around Dec. 18, Roldan told the car’s driver that for $10,000 cash, the substance police thought to be contraband would not be turned over to federal law enforcement. Federal officials recorded several phone calls with Greene and Roldan about returning the items.
The indictment says around Dec. 23, Roldan, Saldana and Greene arrived in separate vehicles to a meeting with the car’s driver and Roldan and Greene made arrangements for the car’s driver to pay cash for the confiscated items. That night, the car’s driver paid Roldan and Greene $5,000 and received personal items but not the suspected drugs and was again told the substance would not be turned over to federal law enforcement.
If convicted, the three men face prison time ranging from one to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $2 million.
"I am aware that the VIPD will not come through this trial unscathed," Francis said. "Again, the confidence this community has entrusted to this department has been shaken, but, however uncomfortable the process of purging the department of those who will betray the public trust, it is necessary if we are to eventually emerge as a stronger, more transparent police department worthy of the respect and honor of the people of the Virgin Islands."
Anyone who has information related to police corruption is encouraged to call the federal police corruption task force task force at (340) 715-6516.