Sept. 22, 2003 – Dr. Lucien Moolenaar II, whose indictment by a federal grand jury on charges of grand larceny and conversion of government funds was announced on Friday, was continuing to serve as the Health Department's deputy commissioner of Public Health Services as of Monday.
The federal indictment accuses Moolenaar of stealing $102,497 in government funds between July 1995 and September 2000. Moolenaar erroneously was issued 63 extra paychecks during that period and never reported it, according to the indictment. The federal charges are conversion of government funds and grand larceny.
If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each offense and be fined up to $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings said on Monday that Moolenaar was "not in custody" and had been issued a summons to appear in District Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday. At that time, he will be advised of the charges against him and arraigned before Magistrate Geoffrey Barnard, Jennings said.
The case against Moolenaar will be prosecuted by attorney Armando Bonilla of the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section, with Curtis Gomez of the U.S. Attorney's Office as co-counsel.
Rina Roebuck, Government House spokeswoman, said on Monday that, as far as she knew, Moolenaar was still on the job as assistant commissioner of Health.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron said on Monday that he had "no idea" of Moolenaar's current employment status. He said he had read "in the paper" that the governor "is considering whether to leave him on the job or suspend him with or without pay." The Source had not published this information, nor had it been in the daily print publications as of Monday.
Mavis Matthew, Health commissioner, did not return a call on Monday.
Moolenaar, a dentist, had previously been charged with 63 counts of embezzlement by the V.I. Attorney General's Office in January 2001 based on the same erroneous payments. At that time he was acting Health commissioner. He then resigned from that post and took a leave from his permanent post of deputy commissioner (See "Moolenaar charged with embezzlement".)
But the charges later were dropped. U.S. Attorney David Nissman, in announcing the federal indictment on Friday, said the reason for that was a "problem with legal theory."
Nissman also said that when the V.I. attorney general initiates a case, the U.S. Attorney's Office "will allow it to go forward." But, given that the Moolenaar case was dismissed locally, "we picked it up."
Stridiron said on Monday that he had been "duty bound" to drop the earlier charges against Moolenaar because there was no V.I. law against "criminal conversion" of government funds. "Unfortunately," he said, "we didn't have such a provision." The federal government does, and is using it as a basis for charging Moolenaar.
To address the lack of such a local law, Stridiron said on Monday, his office drafted legislation last year and sent it to the governor. "Sen. Berry now has the legislation," he said.
Berry said on Monday that the legislation is a part of her Fiscal Year 2004 Omnibus Bill which is still in the legislative legal counsel's office. She said the bill will be assigned to the Public Safety, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee, which she chairs. No date has been set for the committee's next meeting.
Stridiron said Moolenaar has repaid the V.I. government $60,000 of the erroneous payments received. "Though we didn't have a statute, we did have a right to file a civil suit against him, and he agreed to repay that which he took from the government," Stridiron said.
There have been several other instances of government employees erroneously receiving checks which they have had to repay, Stridiron said. "Basically, we sent out a public notice advising any persons having received these checks to go to their department or to the Finance Department and make arrangements to reimburse the government," he said. "It's almost like an amnesty."
Stridiron said the notice was sent out two or three years ago, and "a number of people immediately went to Finance and took care of their responsibilities." He added: "In effect, they didn't steal money, because we didn't have that statute."
A comparable situation came to light at last week's meeting of the Water and Power Authority governing board. During a discussion of line losses, a WAPA official said the utility's procedure has been to make arrangements with people found to have been stealing water or power to pay for it retroactively without criminal penalty. WAPA officials said they wanted to change that procedure. (See "For WAPA, a year of successes, unresolved issues".)
Moolenaar's indictment was one of several Nissman announced Friday. The U.S. attorney said they all had a "common theme: exploitation of the Virgin Islands community." (See "Nissman gives seven cases their day in court".)
Jennings said another member of the medical profession who was among those indicted, Dr. Paul Maynard, also will be arraigned Wednesday. Jennings said Maynard, a physician, was released from custody after posting a $100,000 property bond.
Maynard is charged with 170 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance or derivatives. According to the indictment, an unwarranted prescription Maynard wrote for the drug OxyContin may have resulted in the death of at least one person a week later.

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