Home News Local news TUTEIN BRIBERY TRIAL SET FOR FEB. 14

TUTEIN BRIBERY TRIAL SET FOR FEB. 14

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Yet another date has been set for the bribery trial of Innovative Communication Corp. Vice President John Tutein.
The former V.I. senator's trial is scheduled to start on Feb. 14 in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas. It was to have begun in August but has been postponed several times following motions filed by his St. Thomas attorney Treston Moore.
Tutein is accused of offering Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus and his associates cash, a mobile TV van and equipment worth $177,000 for a youth program begun by the senator.
Prosecutors contend the offers constituted bribes intended to influence Petrus's vote in May on ICC owner Jeffrey Prosser's proposal to give the government land on St. Croix and fund various capital projects throughout the territory, in return for 30-year tax exemptions for 10 businesses owned by Prosser, including ICC.
Depending on the source, the value of the exemptions to the Prosser-owned businesses was somewhere between $180 million and $3.5 billion.
The Senate approved a modified version of the so-called "Prosser deal" on a vote of 8-7, but Gov. Charles Turnbull subsequently vetoed it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings said that because of motions made by Moore to dismiss the case and subsequent replies by the prosecution, the trial has taken some time to start. He said such procedures weren’t unusual.
In several motions Moore has asked to have four of the charges against his client dismissed on grounds of "vagueness and over-breadth." He also said Tutein had the right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution "to financially support candidates," "to financially support projects that elected officials may support" and "to try to persuade elected officials to. . . support legislation."
Curtis Gomez, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, argued in opposition that Moore’s arguments "stray wide of their target" and "lack any support in law." Jennings said the government is in the process of responding to all the defense’s motions.

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