Federal prosecutors brought new criminal charges against an associate of former Casino Control Commission Director Violet Anne Golden. Stephanie Barnes is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing Wednesday, Nov. 27, on those new charges.
Lawyers with the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a superseding indictment Nov. 21, alleging Golden gave Barnes a false IRS tax form. They further allege that Barnes filed false tax returns for 2016 and 2017.
In the original charging document, filed on July 11, Golden and Barnes were charged with wire fraud, money laundering, conversion of government property, making false claims against the government and failure to file tax returns.
Golden was also charged with forgery. According to U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert, the charges relate to alleged illegal activity taking place between 2014 and 2017. Defendants are accused of converting thousands of dollars in government funds intended for operation of the commission to their own personal use.
“According to the indictment, Golden, as chairperson of the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission, and Barnes, a contractor, used commission funds for a variety of personal expenditures, including but not limited to trips to Walt Disney World, tickets to a Broadway production of ‘Hamilton’ and making a down payment for the purchase of a vehicle. The indictment also alleges that Golden, who had an annual salary of $105,000, failed to file timely tax returns for the 2014-2017 tax years,” Shappert said at the time the initial charges were filed.
At the time Golden served as head of the gaming commission and Barnes worked as a contractor tasked with carrying out a problem-gambling outreach program.
Lawyers representing the defendants asked prosecutors to spell out the difference in the new indictment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Brooks did so, on behalf of Shappert, on Monday. Changes relate to counts 30 and 31 in the indictment. In those charges Barnes is accused of filing false 1040 tax returns that she did not believe to truthfully represent her earnings in 2016 and 2017, although she signed the declaration that the information was true.
A Monday, Dec. 2, trial date appears on the scheduled of District Court Judge Curtis Gomez and, according to court documents, inquiries have been filed about the list of witnesses who would be called to testify. The defense has already filed for a continuation of the trial date after winning a declaration from the court saying details attached to the case are complex.
When the defendants appear before U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller a new, extended trial date may be granted.
If convicted of wire fraud, Golden and Barnes could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.