A home repairman who became the subject of a three-year police search was picked up in Florida on Friday. Monday morning marked the initial St. Thomas court appearance for defendant Jeffrey Magras.
Magras is accused of grand larceny and obtaining money under false pretense after investigators heard from two homeowners who said they paid for materials needed for repairs after hurricanes Irma and Maria. His appearance at Monday’s hearing was sent by live-streamed video from the Bureau of Corrections on Veterans Drive.
One customer said she handed over $13,808.40 to fix kitchen fixtures in 2019.
The other complainant said they paid $9,246.77 to replace windows after Magras gave them an estimate for $11.976.77. In both cases, the deposits were supposed to cover the cost of materials and shipping, investigators said.
At the time, the defendant was operating under the business name Windward Techs, LLC.
Both said they waited months for the materials to arrive, according to court records. One followed up with Magras to find out which company was handling the order and got no reply. The other homeowner contacted Licensing and Consumer Affairs. “The investigation further revealed that Magras intentionally took two checks … totaling twenty-three thousand and fifty-five dollars and seventeen cents,” court documents said.
In July 2020, Superior Court Magistrate Henry Carr III signed an arrest warrant. The warrant was executed June 2, 2023, in Florida, where the defendant was working as a project manager for a home repair company, Assistant Attorney General Brenda Scales told the court on Monday.
Defense attorney Peter Lynch argued that the warrant was illegally executed because there was no charging document attached. He added that his client left the Virgin Islands for Florida in December 2019 to seek medical treatment.
Lynch also told the court his client lost his job in Florida following his arrest and was kept in custody for several days, awaiting extradition to the Virgin Islands. Van Holten said she was going to proceed with the advice of rights hearing, and advised Lynch to send any opposing arguments to the Justice Department in writing.
The magistrate also gave Scales until 4 p.m. Tuesday for Justice to submit written responses. The probable cause threshold was reached when Carr signed the warrant, Van Holten said, and the relevant details were contained in an affidavit that was held in court under seal.
Those details were made public when the magistrate unsealed the affidavit last week, she said.
Magras is currently being held at the St. Thomas jail on $25,000 bail. The magistrate granted pretrial release upon posting of a bond for 20 percent of that amount.
Arraignment is scheduled for June 23 at 10 a.m. If found guilty by a jury at trial, Magras faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.