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HomeNewsLocal newsBarnes' Sentencing Delayed a Seventh Time to Await New Guidelines

Barnes’ Sentencing Delayed a Seventh Time to Await New Guidelines

Sentencing has been delayed yet again for Stephanie Barnes — the former Casino Control Commission contractor convicted in December 2021 of conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving federal funds — this time to await new sentencing guidelines for non-violent, first-time offenders that are set to go into effect on Nov. 1.

Stephanie Barnes (Source file photo)

Barnes’ sentencing was scheduled to take place this Friday, but at a hearing last week District Court Chief Judge Robert Molloy agreed to the delay.

“During a portion of the hearing, the Court addressed the new amendment to the sentencing guidelines, Section 4C1.1, and inquired into whether the proposed amendment would apply to Defendant Stephanie Barnes,” Molloy wrote in his order after Thursday’s hearing.

Barnes’ court-appointed attorney Miguel Oppenheimer — who at the end of the same hearing was permitted to withdraw from the case after Barnes effectively fired him last month — “indicated that he believed the provision would likely apply in Barnes’ case. Seeing as the amendment is not scheduled to go into effect until November 1, 2023, Barnes requested, orally, that her sentencing hearing be continued until after November 1, 2023, to ensure she receives any potential benefits from the anticipated guidelines changes,” said Molloy.

“After careful consideration and review, the Court finds good cause to extend the sentencing date in matter,” the judge wrote.

A hearing on a motion for acquittal that Barnes filed in March 2022 and a new sentencing hearing date — if the motion for acquittal fails — will be “determined in a subsequent Order,” said Molloy.

Sentencing for Barnes, 64, who claims she was an unwitting victim of former Casino Control Commission chairwoman Violet Anne Golden’s profligate spending, has now been rescheduled seven times. She has had that many lawyers, too, since her arrest in 2019, and it is unclear from Molloy’s most recent order whether she will be appointed a new attorney or represent herself at the upcoming hearings.

Golden hired Barnes in 2015 to work as a consultant, developing programs to help people with gambling addictions. According to court documents, they took close to $300,000 in funds approved for agency operations and spent it on lavish trips, clothing, entertainment, and other unapproved items.

The irregularities in spending and administrative functions were brought to light by an investigation of the V.I. Inspector General’s Office in 2018, which led to an FBI investigation. Barnes and Golden were subsequently arrested in July 2019.

Under a plea deal, Golden pleaded guilty in January 2020 to misappropriating $295,503 of government funds. She was sentenced in August that year to 24 months and was released in September 2021. She testified at Barnes’ trial on behalf of the prosecution.

Under the current sentencing guidelines Barnes, who has been held at a federal detention facility in Puerto Rico since she was found guilty at trial in December 2021, could face 10 years in prison.

She is not the only defendant whose sentencing has been delayed to take advantage of the new guidelines.

On Friday, a Florida judge delayed the sentencing of former British Virgin Islands Ports Authority managing director Oleanvine Pickering Maynard and her son Kadeem Maynard — accused along with former BVI Premier Andrew Fahie of a plot to route cocaine through that territory — to early 2024, to take advantage of the changes in the sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders.

The mother and son pleaded guilty to a single cocaine smuggling conspiracy charge on June 12 and were originally scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

The federal judge’s order, published Friday, schedules Pickering Maynard to be sentenced Jan. 18, the same day that Fahie’s trial on cocaine smuggling and money laundering charges is to start. The Miami judge further delayed Kadeem Maynard’s sentencing because of a court calendar conflict. The Maynards could be sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

Like the Maynards, Barnes has no previous convictions, and her crime did not involve weapons, violence, or a sexual offense, all of which could reduce her sentence under the new guidelines.

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