Sen. Alvin Williams and his chief of staff, Kim Blackett, pled not guilty Wednesday to an array of bribery, extortion and public corruption charges at their arraignment in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas, court officials have confirmed.
Williams’ senior advisor, Garry Sprauve, who was also charged in a federal indictment last week, is to be arraigned Nov. 21.
The court also served papers on representatives of Ace Development, a company Williams purportedly had an interest in. The senator is alleged to have used his position to steer business to this location. Ace representatives will make their first appearance in court on Nov. 21 as well.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller issued an order Wednesday outlining the trial schedule. Pretrial discovery is to be substantially complete by Nov. 21. The court will hear pretrial motions on Jan. 2, 2013, and the trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 7.
Williams and Blackett were arrested by federal agents Nov. 8 on charges stemming from allegedly offering bribes, soliciting bribes, extorting money from employees, and a slew of federal and territorial public corruption charges.
The federal indictment charges that on Sept. 5, 2009, Williams attempted to give Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls $10,000 in cash to sway the commissioner to grant future work to Ace Development.
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.
The government additionally alleges Williams received several bribes, claiming he solicited and received $10,000 and $25,000 bribes masked as campaign contributions from the developers of the Tutu Park Mall windmill power generating project in exchange for Williams’ promoting legislation supporting the project.
Williams also allegedly 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.
The government is seeking the forfeiture of any property derived from the proceeds of Williams’ alleged illegal activities, and cites proceeds in the amount of $1.1 million.
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.