Sept. 16, 2003 – Public Works Department officials are to appear before the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday to discuss the state of affairs within the department. The condition of the territory's roads and the pending shutdown of the Anguilla landfill are two main topics that Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, the committee chair, said he plans to discuss.
But other senators are expected to use their time to discuss the recent allegations of fraud and corruption within the department. Noticeably missing from the long list of department officials invited to testify are Assistant Commissioner Robert Moorehead and Randy Germain, deputy commissioner for operations, who had both written letters alluding to corruption in the department.
The letters were disclosed during a Senate budget hearing of DPW in August. (See "DPR fraud charges aired at budget hearing".)
Moorehead's letter was written to his boss, Commissioner Wayne Callwood, informing him that "rumors abound concerning the illegal use of DPW government resources to work on private properties." Germain's letter was to V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt and said that "several complaints and confessions have been brought to my attention that monies have been paid to a very high level DPW official for services rendered, to include kick-backs, in short, quid pro quo."
Malone, who was urged by Sen. Usie Richards to take action regarding the allegations, has since asked that the Public Corruption Task Force investigate them. The task force is a joint effort of the V.I. Justice Department and the Office of Inspector General.
Toya Malone, chief of staff for Sen. Malone, said on Monday that Moorehead and Germain were not invited to testify at Wednesday's hearing on St. Thomas because "fraud in Public Works is not the subject of the day." He added that he does expect the senators to bring the issue up, however.
"I don't think the day would pass without the subject being brought up," Toya Malone said.
They're trying to cover up things," Germain said on Tuesday. "Why shouldn't I be invited? It's games they're playing." He said that as St. Croix deputy commissioner of operations his position is just as important as those of the individuals invited to the hearing to discuss what's going on with the department. Germain said he would not attend the hearing, however, because he was not invited.
Moorehead said he, too, was surprised that he was not invited to the hearing but will still attend in his capacity as assistant commissioner.
"It seems like all the people on the list were from the St. Thomas-St. John district," Moorehead said. "I don't know if they plan to have a separate hearing on St. Croix." He added that he usually accompanies the commissioner to such legislative hearings because he is the top official for the department in the St. Croix district.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron had told Sen. Malone that discussing the fraud allegations at the public hearing was not the best way to handle the situation because of certain legal ramifications that might result. (See "Public Works fraud charges to be investigated".)
The hearing is set for 4 p.m. Those invited to testify are: Commissioner Callwood; Ira Wade, deputy commissioner, operations; Aloy Neilsen, acting deputy commissioner, Engineering Division; Verne Callwood, deputy commissioner, Office of Transportation; Sonya Nelthropp, senior manager, Utilities/Waste Management Division; Vida Rouse, director, Administrative Division; Lionel Olive, director, Equipment Maintenance Division; William Steven, director, Construction Division; Frederick Stevens, director, Roads and Highways Division; Wystan Benjamin, program manager, Highway Engineering Office; and Francisco Nadal, district engineer, St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island.
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