Sept. 15, 2004 – Criminal charges have been brought against the former head of the planning office in the V.I. Police Department. A 12-count criminal information document filed by the attorney general's office, late Tuesday in Territorial Court, details charges of obtaining money by false pretense, fraudulent claims against the government, grand larceny, and embezzlement of public funds.
The charges are against Riise Richards, who was the director of the VIPD Planning and Research Division when the alleged acts were committed.
The government has charged that Richards attempted to defraud the government by obtaining $4,100 from a police department account held at a travel agency on the basis that the money would be used to fund travel by the V.I. police department. Instead, the charges state, the money was used for her gain. The alleged acts occurred in December 2002 and in February and March 2003.
The criminal information document also included allegations that Richards, a failed senatorial candidate in the 2002 general election, filed fraudulent claims against the government when she submitted written authorization for the release of cash and airline tickets on the pretense that the funds and tickets would be used for travel and expenses related to the police department.
The documents, obtained by the Source from the Territorial Court, also charged that Richards unlawfully took government funds for her personal use.
Auditors at the Inspector Generals office accused Richards of using in June of 2002 a government travel ticket to allow her daughter to travel between St. Thomas and St. Croix. There are also other allegations that Richards obtained false cash advances and airline tickets that were never used. And the document also contains the allegation that in November 2003 misappropriations in cash advances and tickets for unauthorized travel were made from the police departments travel accounts
There are also charges, which allege that Richards filed fraudulent reimbursement claims to the government for the purchase of computer equipment for her personal use.
The court documents detail three counts of obtaining money under false pretense; three counts of fraudulent claims against the government, two counts of grand larceny, two counts of embezzlement or falsification of public funds and two counts of embezzlement by public and private officers.
There was no indication Wednesday as to whether a summons has been issued for either Richards arrest or ordering her appearance before a Territorial Court judge. The criminal information document was filed on Tuesday afternoon just about the time the court was closing in advance on Tropical Storm Jeanne. The court was closed Wednesday.
Dionne Meyers-Louis, assistant attorney general, signed the complaint on behalf of the Office of the V.I. Attorney General. Richards had been recently reassigned from the VIPD Planning and Research Office to the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
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