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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsKey Figures in Federal Misuse of Funds Probe Released on Bond

Key Figures in Federal Misuse of Funds Probe Released on Bond

Three key figures in the ongoing federal misuse of funds investigation—Department of Education Maintenance Director Davidson Charlemagne, his wife Sasha, and former V.I. Housing Finance Authority CEO Darin Richardson—have been released on $100,000 unsecured bonds as they face charges for an alleged $4 million fraud scheme exploiting hurricane recovery funds.

Court documents filed on June 13 outline strict conditions for their release. The defendants are prohibited from violating any laws, must surrender their passports and are confined to their respective islands. They are also required to report regularly to probation officers. Whether the bonds have been posted was unclear as of Monday night.

The indictment, unveiled by U.S. Attorney Delia Smith last Thursday, charges the Charlemagnes with government program fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Richardson faces charges of criminal conflict of interest and making false statements. The allegations stem from a reported scheme to defraud taxpayers through a fraudulent contract for woodpile management intended for post-hurricane reconstruction.

Smith stated, “These defendants exploited hurricane recovery efforts to defraud taxpayers, a clear message that public officials will be held accountable for such crimes.” The investigation, involving the FBI and other federal agencies, revealed a fraudulent contract awarded to Charlemagne’s company, ISG and D&S Trucking, which allegedly billed VIHFA exorbitantly while delivering minimal services. Payments began in February 2021, yet substantial work was delayed for months, resulting in Charlemagne pocketing over $582,000 before commencing contractually agreed tasks, according to the news release.

Further investigations uncovered that funds were misappropriated for personal expenses, including credit card bills, car loans and even fireworks.

Richardson, allegedly responsible for the contract’s escalation from $2.99 million to over $4.4 million, is said to have received substantial kickbacks and falsified statements to federal investigators about his involvement.

Read more about the charges here.

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