Aug. 18, 2004 – After arriving almost 20 minutes late for his arraignment in District Court on Wednesday morning, Sen. Carlton Dowe was released on his signature after Magistrate Judge Geoffrey Barnard set bail at $10,000 then placed him on probation.
Dowe, who whose indictment on federal wire fraud charges was announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office on Friday, is accused of having double-billed the V.I. government for $75,207.75 in back pay while he was director of the V.I. Fire Service.
The indictment, which came a few days after Dowe filed to run for his third term in the Legislature, alleges that he instructed a Fire Service payroll employee to "alter his payroll records to reflect a retroactive increase in [Dowe's] hourly wage and combine the payment with an unrelated and unpaid back-pay claim." (See "Carlton Dowe Accused of Stealing Government Funds".)
No bail had been set previously for Dowe, 46, but Attorney Armando Bonilla, representing the V.I. government, asked Barnard on Wednesday to set it at $10,000. Barnard said he would place no restraints on Dowe's freedom to travel, as long as the senator notified the court of his plans to do so, but that Dowe must report for probation.
Dowe's attorney, Treston Moore, requested a speedy jury trial for his client. Barnard set Oct. 12 for jury selection and trial later that same day.
Dowe must be interviewed by U.S. Marshal's Office authorities by Friday.
Sens. Celestino White and Louis Hill sat in the courtroom to show support for their colleague.
"It's plain politics," White said of the charges brought against Dowe. "I have no doubt that the senator is innocent and will be vindicated."
Allegations concerning back pay had surfaced about Dowe before the last election, White said, adding that he, himself, has been the subject of the "same sort of things." White said the attacks were always by other members of the Senate.
"I'm here in support of the senator and because I know the harm that can be done by individuals who call themselves colleagues and peers," White said.
Hill said his reason for attending the arraignment was that "Sen. Dowe is a member of my family. In times of difficulty we should stick together." Hill's wife and Dowe's are sisters.
In a statement issued on Friday, Dowe said he was innocent of all charges filed and that he had no intention of dropping out of the Senate race. "The true test of a person is not where he stands in times of comfort but where he stands in times of adversities," he stated.
Should Dowe be found guilty of the charges, he could face up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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