Aug. 23, 2004– Opening arguments will be presented Tuesday morning in District Court on St. Thomas in the trial of former Deputy Health Commissioner Lucien A. Moolenaar.
Moolenaar is charged with two federal counts of embezzlement and one count of grand larceny. He is alleged to have falsely obtained $102,497.89 from the V.I. government between 1995 and 2000.
According to the indictment, Moolenaar erroneously was issued 63 extra paychecks during that period and never reported the error. He also is charged with knowingly converting more than $40,000 in federal funds for personal use.
The Attorney General's Office had charged Moolenaar, a dentist, with 63 counts of embezzlement in January 2001 based on the same alleged erroneous payments. At that time he was acting Health commissioner. He then resigned from that post and took a leave from his permanent post of deputy commissioner. However the territorial charges were later dropped.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron said that was because V.I. law has no provision to deal with criminal conversion of government funds. The federal government, which has such a provision, picked up the case, and last September a federal grand jury handed up an indictment charging Moolenaar with grand larceny and conversion of funds. (See "Indicted Deputy Health Commissioner on the Job".)
Stridiron said in September that Moolenaar had repaid the V.I. government $60,000 of the erroneous payments received. "Though we didn't have a statute, we did have a right to file a civil suit against him, and he agreed to repay that which he took from the government," Stridiron said.
On Monday, a 15-member jury and one alternate were selected for the trial, which will be heard by Judge Thomas K. Moore.
Armando Bonilla of the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section will prosecute the case. Attorney Arturo Watlington with assistance from Samuel Ottley Jr. will represent Moolenaar, who has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each offense and be fined up to $250,000.
Tuesday's opening arguments are to begin at 9 a.m.
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