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Sunday, June 26, 2022


James Cheek, who served as V.I. Education commissioner in 1995-‘96, recently lost much of his lavish lifestyle to the auctioneer’s gavel to help pay a $1.8 million judgment won against him by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The president of Howard University for 20 years, Cheek retired from that post in 1989, just two years before a banking venture he was involved in collapsed, setting in motion the FDIC action.
Former Gov. Roy Schneider, a fellow Republican, gave Cheek the job of commissioner of Education in the territory in 1995. His tenure was controversial and brief.
Under fire from senators, some staff and much of the public for frequent absences and for delays in repairing schools after Hurricane Marilyn, Cheek resigned his post a week before the ‘96 school year was to begin and reportedly left the territory the next day.
His name appeared prominently in the Washington Post earlier this month as the newspaper reported on the auction of his six-bedroom "palatial mansion" with a huge bar and entertainment center and much of the home’s contents.
Among the items up for sale, according to the article, were a model train set valued at $10,000; a 250-gallon aquarium and rare tropical fish; a Brunswick pool table; $150,000 worth of Lladro porcelain and other collectibles, and $30,000 worth of jewelry.
A Miami Beach condominium, three yachts and three cars are also in the hands of a trustee but were not included in the auction, the Post said.
Cheek sought the protection of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 1997 when the FDIC and other creditors "went after him for his role in a banking fiasco," the Post said. The FDIC won its $1.8 million judgment against him and his estate earlier this year.
It charged Cheek with gross negligence for his role as a board member of the university-owned United National Bank. The UNB collapsed in 1991 after making millions of dollars in risky loans to recipients with no collateral.

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