Sept. 19 2003 – The witness-tampering charges brought by a federal grand jury against a St. Croix man stem from an action that occurred last month at the trial of two former members of the Narcotics Strike Force accused of extortion, drug trafficking and racketeering.
Vanroy Wendall Benjamin Jr. is alleged in the federal indictment announced on Friday of action that caused a federal judge to declare a mistrial in the case of former NSF agents Jay Watson and George Osborne. The court ordered a change of venue to St. Thomas, and the new trial of the two defendants began this week.
In announcing the indictment of Benjamin on Monday morning. U.S. Attorney David Nissman said he would not comment much on the case, since it involves the trial now under way.
"I don't want to say too much about the NSF case because it is going on upstairs," Nissman said at a press conference in the Ron de Lugo Federal Building on St. Thomas. "There was a threatening gesture, a person moving his finger across the throat, that intimidated a juror in the first trial. It was brought to the attention of the court. The individual was alleged to be Vanroy Benjamin, and we have charged him by indictment in St. Croix for that act."
Benjamin, 32, is accused of making the throat-slashing gesture toward the seated jurors in District Court on St. Croix. He was arrested on Aug. 28 several hours after the incident is alleged to have occurred and the mistrial was declared. At that time he was working for a security company that does business with the federal courts and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
One of the defendants, Osborne, reported observing the gesture to District Judge Thomas K. Moore, who was presiding over the case. Through his attorney, Osborne said he had seen Benjamin direct the throat-slashing motion toward a female juror, then point toward the defense table. A different juror also reported seeing the hand motion. According to federal authorities, when Benjamin was questioned later by an FBI agent, he admitted making the gesture.
Benjamin has been jailed since his arrest. Earlier this week, Moore ruled that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community and granted a prosecution request to keep him incarcerated.

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