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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 16, 2024


May 6, 2002 – Former drug czar Wayne Chinnery began his trial in federal court Monday on charges that he perjured himself by lying on the witness stand during his previous trial on assault charges.
Chinnery, the territory's former drug policy advisor and head of the Narcotics Strike Force, is accused of four counts of making false statements during that trial in October last year. He has admitted he lied on the witness stand about his education and professional credentials, but defense attorney George Hodge on Monday argued that those lies were not material to the outcome of the previous trial, in which Chinnery was acquitted of all charges.
"We concede it was false testimony, but it had nothing to do with the charges," Hodge told the jurors during his opening statement. "He was not on trial about his qualifications."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins told jurors that during the previous trial – in which Chinnery was charged with violating a woman's civil rights and third-degree assault in connection with the woman's statement that he beat her with his pistol during a narcotics sweep in May 2000 in Hospital Ground – Chinnery took the stand and testified falsely about several aspects of his past.
Chinnery told the jurors that he graduated from Hofstra University, but records show that he was dismissed from the university for poor academic standing, Jenkins said. Chinnery also testified at trial that he received a law degree from Hofstra, that he was an attorney and that he worked for law firms in the Virgin Islands; none of that was true, Jenkins said.
Jenkins argued that jurors at the previous trial used those false statements as part of their decision-making process of whether to believe Chinnery's testimony about the assault charges. Chinnery testified at the time that he was justified in using some force on the drug sweep, and that his actions did not constitute an assault or violation of anyone's civil rights.
Jenkins noted that Chinnery had no law-enforcement experience, and that he was only eligible to hold the position as drug policy advisor and director of the Narcotics Strike Force – a combination of positions commonly known as the territory's "drug czar" – because he claimed to have a college education.
Chinnery also made false claims about being an attorney during his run for senator in 2000, Jenkins said, adding that he would call witnesses to testify that Chinnery had failed his Virgin Islands Bar exam.
Gov. Charles Turnbull dismissed Chinnery from his position as drug czar in 2000, shortly after Chinnery was charged with domestic assault in a separate case. Those charges were later dismissed after the victim testified that Chinnery had not hit her.

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