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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, February 29, 2024
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DeJongh Questions Findings of Investigation Over Security Fencing

A more thorough federal investigation would have shown that money reprogrammed by the Legislature two years ago was intended for more than just road repairs, Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Tuesday, as he addressed the findings of a recent report that examined whether funds used for security enhancements at his home on St. Thomas were misused.
"The Inspector General’s Office had an obligation to do a full investigation if they were going to do any investigation at all," deJongh said at a press conference held at Government House. "Such an investigation would have gone into the other uses to which the reprogrammed monies were put. Further inquiry would have made clear that the passage of the amended language was intended to cover more than just roads, and did."
That money — which was reprogrammed through an amendment tacked onto an omnibus bill special-ordered to the floor during a March 2007 Senate session — also covered things such as the construction of vaults and drainage improvements at the Eastern Cemetery, he said. And once the Senate passed the bill, all the projects moved forward once the funding became available.
Citing the language of the Senate amendment, deJongh disagreed with the findings of the report released this week by the Inspector General’s Office under the U.S. Interior Department, which said that senators were under the impression when they passed the bill that the money would be used for public road repairs.
DeJongh said it’s not clear whether investigators spoke to the 15 senators present during the session, or to the sponsor of the amendment, Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, who has said the reprogramming originated during efforts to find money for the construction of Leonardo "Nardo" Trotman Drive.
DeJongh was also asked point-blank during the press conference if he knew whether Hannibal Ware, local field inspector for the Interior Department’s Inspector General’s Office, was related to Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, who requested that a federal investigation into security enhancements be conducted.
Ware told the Source this week that the inspection was approved on a fast-track basis after consultation between local Interior officials and the Washington, D.C., headquarters.
DeJongh said Monday that he would rather deal with policy than gossip, but added that the government was "hopeful that Mr. Ware made clear his close relationship" with Donastorg and that Interior officials were comfortable with it when he continued to be involved in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the government will be putting out a "full and complete" response to the report by Feb. 16, the governor added.
"I want to assure everyone in the Virgin Islands that all the work that was done on the security enhancements, the cemetery vaults, and the drainage improvements was done in compliance with V.I. law and was done with monies that were, in fact, and through review of the attorney general, authorized by the Legislature to be used for those purposes," deJongh said Tuesday.

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