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Former US Virgin Islands Official Busted On Bribery Charges

News Americas, ST. CROIX, USVI, Fri. Aug. 7, 2015: The former Director of Finance and Administration for the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (VIPFA) has been slapped with conspiracy and bribery charges by the U.S. Justice Department.

Julito Francis, 53, was on Thursday charged with 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery, extortion under color of official right, honest services wire fraud and perjury.

Others charged by the DOJ include Gerard Castor, 69, president and owner of Balbo Construction Corporation and John Woods, 59, co-principal of an architectural company that worked on behalf of the VIPFA.

Castor  is charged with 10 counts of conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud while Woods is charged with three counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion under color of official right.

The various offenses are based on their participation in a bribery scheme involving over $17 million in construction contracts awarded by the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (VIPFA).

Francis, Castor and Woods were arrested Thursday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller of the District of the Virgin Islands.  The defendants were released pending an August 12th arraignment.

According to the indictment, Castor provided more than $400,000 in improvements to Francis’ personal residence, and over $10,000 in improvements to Woods’ personal property.  In    return, Francis and Woods used their official positions to ensure that Balbo Construction was awarded construction contracts by the VIPFA that were worth over $17 million, including a multi-million contract, and supplements thereto, to build the St. Thomas Regional Library.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants attempted to conceal the bribery scheme by creating false documents that suggested Francis and Woods intended to pay Castor for the work performed.