A joint effort by the V.I. Police and Justice Departments has yielded nine arrests made this week through a newly formed Economic Crime Bureau, which Police Commissioner Delroy Richards said Friday has been working in the territory for about the last year and a half.
Speaking at a press conference on St. Thomas, Richards said that upon taking office in 2015, an assessment of the VIPD’s response capabilities was conducted and turned up several white collar crimes cases, including fraud and identity theft, particularly against the elderly.
While the Economic Crime Bureau is working within VIPD to investigate such cases, Justice Department officials have been busy compiling information and issuing arrest warrants, Richards said.
Attorney General Claude Walker said that Justice has also conducted a national search for a director of a white collar crime division, an office created within the department by the Legislature that will continue to work in conjunction with VIPD to “solely deal with this category of crime.” Tapped for the position is New York attorney John Tolud, who Walker said has also been admitted to practice in the territory.
“Cases involving white collar crime and public corruption are being taken very seriously in the Virgin Islands,” Tolud said Friday. “We have several ongoing active investigations and we will be putting forth the full resources of the office to resolve the existing cases, or be taking them to trial.”
“The attorney general and I want to send a message that these types of cases, these types of crimes, can no longer be tolerated and that the government and the people of the territory can no longer afford these crimes and the negative impacts that they have on our daily lives,” Tolud said.
Walker said Justice is taking a hard line approach to prosecuting white collar crimes in an effort to reduce the level of public corruption and fraud in the territory.
“As the level of public corruption increases, that’s when things fall apart,” Walker said, adding that the nine arrests made by VIPD this week show exactly the kind of “serious crimes” being committed in the territory.
Arrested this week were:
– 36-year-old Mitchel Rochard, who was arrested and charged with buying, receiving or possessing stolen property after he was allegedly found with items that were stolen from ABC Janitors. Rochard was remanded to Golden Grove Correctional Facility after being unable to post $10,000 bail;
– 36-year-old Natasha P. Hodge was arrested for obtaining money by false pretense, forgery and identity theft. Hodge was employed as a caregiver by another family and charged with taking care of their father and was arrested after a review of bank statements and transactions showed that she was allegedly depositing unauthorized checks into her own personal account. Hodge was remanded to Golden Grove after being unable to post $35,000 bail;
– 26-year-old Janie Roldan, who has been charged with fraudulent use of a credit card, obtaining money by false pretense, and forging a false obligation. According to VIDP, Roldan allegedly used a credit card without authorization and then forged the signature. Her bail was set at $10,000 and she was remanded to Golden Grove after she wasn’t able to post the money;
– 67-year-old Janice Isenberg, a former employee of Marquee Mortgage, was arrested and charged with 15 counts of forgery, obtaining money by false pretense, grand larceny, passing forged bills or notes, and embezzlement by clerks, agents or employees after she allegedly forged client signatures on money orders that were for mortgage clients’ accounts. Isenberg’s bail was set at $35,000, but she was remanded to Golden Grove after not being able to post the money’
– 24-year-old Christopher Riley was arrested and charged with three counts of obtaining money under false pretense, aggravated identity theft, obtaining credit card through fraudulent means, and receipt of money, goods and services obtained by fraudulent use of a credit card. Riley allegedly made several transactions at Kmart, Urban Threads and an ATM withdrawal that the owner of the card did not authorize. Riley was remanded to Golden Grove after he wasn’t able to post $35,000 bail;
– 30-year-old Sham Malaykhan, a former employee at Olympic Rent-A-Car, was arrested and charged with grand larceny after he allegedly cashed one of Olympic Rent-A-Car’s checks. Unable to post bail at $35,000 dollars, Malaykhan was remanded to Golden Grove;
– Bureau of Motor Vehicle employees Juanita Cruz-Ayala and Joseph Murray, along with St. Croix resident 54-year-old Mario Ayala, who owns a driving school business. According to VIPD, all three were arrested and charged with fraudulent claims upon the government, falsifying driver’s license cards, solicitation or receipt of bribes by public employees. All three were also remanded to Golden Grove after they were unable to post $35,000 bail.
Richards said an outstanding warrant remains for 55 year-old Rosa Diaz, who is wanted for forgery on St. Croix. Residents are asked to contact the police with any information on Diaz’s whereabouts at (340) 773 =-2266 on St. Croix, (340) 774-4629 on St. Thomas, emergency 911, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.
Richards said Diaz is Hispanic, weighs approximately 150 pounds, and is 5’4” with black hair, brown eyes and a light complexion. She is known to frequent the Castle Coakley area, he added.