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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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IG TO EXAMINE HODGE REQUEST

The Virgin Islands Inspector General's Office will examine retired Presiding Judge Verne Hodge's request for $400,000 in accumulated annual and sick leave.
"We're going to look at the numbers and look at the law and the attorney general's opinion," Inspector General Steven Van Beverhoudt said Thursday. The action comes at the request of Sen. Anne Golden.
In an interview Thursday night Hodge confirmed that he already has received a partial payment.
"They made one installment," he said. "It was around $50,000." But then "it was stopped" and Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull asked for advice from Attorney General Iver Stridiron.
Turnbull said Thursday that "the review process has not been completed" despite Stridiron's position that the government should pay Hodge. She confirmed that "some monies were paid" to Hodge, but would not give a figure.
Neither Hodge nor Turnbull has released the number of hours for which Hodge is seeking payment.
"I was surprised myself," said the retired judge, when the total came back from the payroll division of Finance after he retired. He was able to avoid using his annual leave by using "comp time" for days off instead.
He put in a lot of overtime, he explained, for which he could not be paid except in accrued "comp time."
In her letter to the inspector general, Golden asked him to "please convert 23 years of annual leave accumulated by the honorable judge into dollars. Is the $400,000 figure mathematically correct based on your conversion? Did the judge ever take any vacation in his 23 years on the bench? Was any sick leave ever used by the honorable judge in his 23 years on the bench?"
She also wants to know if sick leave has ever been included in the lump sum payment of government employees who retire or leave the government. In all, she asked the inspector general to consider 11 items.
Van Beverhoudt said some of Golden's concerns were legal questions which his office is not equipped to answer. Those questions will be referred to the Legislature's legal counsel for answers.
For his part, Van Beverhoudt said he will contact Hodge, ask for records from Finance and review what was done with other judges who retired under the same law that Hodge is citing.
He expects his review to be complete "within a few weeks — assuming I can get all the information," said Van Beverhoudt.

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