May 12, 2007 — Former St. Croix Administrator Ohanio Harris is scheduled to be sentenced Monday for his part in a thwarted scheme to bilk millions of dollars from the V.I. government to fix St. Croix's beleaguered sewer system.
Harris, who was also a former high-ranking Police officer, was an aide to former Gov. Charles W. Turnbull when he and three others, including former Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, were indicted on a host of local and federal charges for their involvement with Global Resources Management (GRM), a newly organized company which had little to no assets and one employee.
The indictment charged that Harris used his power to assist GRM founder and President Ashley Andrews to obtain a $3.6 million no-bid contract to repair the system. Harris eventually pleaded guilty before the start of a trial in May 2005. Andrew's co-defendants were Campbell Malone, an accountant who did accounting work for GRM, and Esdel Hansen, the husband of the former senator, who was listed at the time as GRM's sole employee.
The charges against Esdel Hansen were dropped following an initial trial on St. Croix. His wife was not a co-defendant during that trial. Harris, who was expected to be a government witness, was not called to the stand during the initial trial but testified at the retrial of Andrews and Malone. The former senator was a co-defendant in that retrial in September 2006.
A District Court jury later returned guilty verdicts against Andrews and Malone, but Alicia Hansen received a hung jury verdict on a conflict-of-interest charge. Prosecutors put her on trial a second time in February 2007 but she was acquitted of that crime. That same month, she was charged with two counts of perjury relating to trial testimony back in September 2006 and grand jury testimony in 2004.
She was scheduled to go on trial last week on those perjury counts, but prosecutors filed a superseding indictment adding three more perjury charges. The new charges postponed that trial, and barring a last minute plea, it will be the former senator's third trial. A new trial date was not immediately known.
According to a report in the Daily News, the former senator on May 7 entered a not guilty plea to all five perjury counts.
The new perjury counts charge that:
–Hansen misrepresented her real estate holdings in a financial affidavit that was filed on April 2, 2004, in support of her request for a court-appointed attorney, and preclude her from paying attorney fees. Documents to support the request listed the value of Hansen's Bellvue home as $250,000, half of its worth. Tax documents showed it was valued at $500,000.
–Hansen did not list a property in Estate Humbug worth at least $55,000.
–Hansen's trial testimony about the status of a draft amendment to a bill creating a research and technical park with the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, contradicted earlier testimony to a grand jury. Hansen had testified that her office had a copy of a draft amendment that had been prepared by GRM before the bill came before the Senate in January 2002. She told the grand jury in February 2004 she had no such amendment.
The initial perjury counts charge that:
–Hansen denied on the witness stand during her initial trial that her husband, Esdel, served as her chief of staff — a claim that was contradicted by documents found in her home.
–Hansen testified that she did not recognized a three-page document entered into evidence that listed her Senate's office rules, despite evidence she was aware of the document.
Andrews, who was convicted of wire fraud, conspiracy, and false claims, was scheduled to be sentenced on May 9 until visiting District Judge James Giles granted a motion for a delay. Andrews is also facing a charge in connection with encouraging others in the case to commit perjury. Prosecutors have said that he encouraged his brother, Kenneth Andrews, and Harris, to lie on the witness stand and to the grand jury. Kenneth Andrews was charged in January 2007 with lying on the witness stand about allowing Ashley Andrews to use his name on GRM's application for a business license.
On May 8, a day after Hansen entered her not guilty pleas and the day before Andrews was to be sentenced, Malone received a four-year prison sentence, well short of federal guidelines. Giles, who has been presiding over the GRM cases, acknowledged during sentencing on May 8, that Malone's part in the scheme was limited. Giles also acknowledged during sentencing that being blind in prison was a severe-enough punishment for Malone, who had faced a 10-year term.
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