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Thursday, October 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSen. Alvin Williams Arrested; Charged with Bribery and Extorting Employees

Sen. Alvin Williams Arrested; Charged with Bribery and Extorting Employees

 Sen. Alvin Williams speaking during senate hearings.St. Thomas Senator Alvin Williams and two of his staffers were arrested Thursday on charges stemming from allegedly offering bribes, soliciting bribes, extorting money from employees, and a slew of federal and territorial public corruption charges.

The arrests came in the late afternoon after a federal grand jury returned indictments against Williams; his senior adviser, Garry Sprauve, 64; and his chief of staff, Kim Blackett, 29.

Williams, 34, reportedly turned himself in, while Blackett and Sprauve may have been the two staff members purportedly arrested at the Legislature on St. Thomas (see below).

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the federal indictment charges that on Sept. 5, 2009, Williams attempted to give Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls $10,000 in cash in an attempt to sway the commissioner to grant future work to Ace Development Inc., a company in which Williams purportedly had an interest.

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The indictment also alleges Williams solicited a bribe from the developers of the Raphune Vista housing project on St. Thomas, and that he corruptly promoted legislative action and supported funding and zoning for the project, in exchange for which Ace Development got a contract for Raphune Vista construction work and rented construction equipment to the developers. These actions purportedly occurred between 2007 and 2011.

Williams also allegedly solicited and received a $10,000 and a $25,000 bribe – both in the form of campaign contributions – from the developers of the Tutu Park Mall windmill power generating project, between Sept. 2008 and Sept. 2009, in exchange for Williams’ promoting legislation supporting the project.

The indictment also charges that between the beginning of 2006 and the end of 2011, he and a staff member falsified campaign disclosure reports to help pocket some of his campaign contributions, and also improperly spent recorded campaign contributions from a campaign account.

Perhaps the most egregious allegation in the indictment is that in the summer of 2010, Williams solicited bribes from legislative staff members by offering to increase the staff members’ salaries, allegedly for merit, in exchange for which the staff members would withdraw a portion of the increased salaries in cash and make the cash available to Williams.  Sen. Alvin Williams speaking during senate hearings.

Beyond soliciting cash from legislative employees, from Sept. 2010 to July of 2011, Williams allegedly received a bribe when he did increase the salary of a staff member, supposedly for merit, in exchange for a portion of the raise.

Williams and Blackett also allegedly had Blackett spend time on the job doing work in Williams’ name as he sought online degrees from the University of Phoenix, from 2007 through 2011. They are being charged with federal wire fraud and territorial charges of defrauding the Virgin Islands government by using legislative and public funds for doing non-legislative work.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of any property derived from the proceeds of Williams’ alleged illegal activities, and cites proceeds in the amount of $1.1 million.

Reached Thursday evening, Senate President Ronald Russell emphasized that the Legislature is "fully complying with any investigations and will continue to do so." Russell was on St. Croix at the time, but said he confirmed with St. Thomas staff that federal officers entered the legislative building on St. Thomas, where they arrested two staff members, while he believed Williams turned himself in. Calls to Williams were not returned as of 10:30 p.m.

The arrests come more than a year after federal agents raided the legislative complex on St. Thomas and confiscated papers and computers. No charges or arrests occurred at the time of that raid, which took place Oct. 5, 2011. (See related links below)

If convicted of the charges Williams and Blackett face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The prosecution of public corruption is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said in a statement. “It is a breach of the public trust for public officials to use their office for personal gain.”

Sharpe encouraged anyone with direct knowledge of illegal acts or who has any information concerning corruption in the Virgin Islands to call the Public Corruption Task Force at 715-6516.

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