Aug. 13 – The U.S. Attorney's Office announced on Friday that a federal grand jury sitting on St. Thomas has handed up a two-count indictment alleging that Sen. Carlton Dowe doubled billed the V.I. government for $75,207.75 in back pay for the period that he was director of the V.I. Fire Service.
Dowe, 48, an independent candidate running for his third term in the Legislature, was charged with two counts of wire fraud stemming from a March 2001 payment made to his Chase Bank checking account, according to the nine-page indictment filed in District Court on St. Thomas.
Dowe released a statement on Friday afternoon saying he was innocent of all charges filed. "Last election this issue of back pay came up," he said. "Two months prior to this election it is here again. I declare my innocence today."
In 2001, according to the indictment, Dowe, who was director of the V.I. Fire Service in 1995-99, won a settlement from the government awarding him $50,000 as a pay raise given to Fire Service executives. The raise was later rescinded, but in 1999 Dowe and seven others successfully argued that they were due the money anyway, the indictment says.
Prosecutors allege that Dowe double-billed the government for the settlement after instructing a Fire Service payroll employee to "alter his payroll records to reflect a retroactive increase in [Dowe's] hourly wage and combine the payment with an unrelated and unpaid back-pay claim." According to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney David Nissman, Dowe did not tell the employee that he had already received the $50,000 payment.
"When the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General began investigating the payment, Dowe coaxed the Fire Service employee who calculated and processed the fraudulent claim at his direction to lie to investigators about Dowe's involvement in calculating and submitting the duplicate back pay claim," the release from Nissman's office stated.
Dowe said in his release, issued on the letterhead of the Friends and Supporters of Carlton Ital' Dowe, that he will be represented in responding to the charges by attorney Treston Moore. "I look forward to my day in court," he said.
He noted that he is seeking re-election to represent the St. Thomas-St. John district in the Senate and said he "will continue my quest for the bread-and-butter issues" including capital projects, education, housing and emergency services.
"The true test of a person is not where he stands in times of comfort but where he stands in times of adversities," Dowe said in his release, which concluded with this statement: "There will be no further statement from me on this legal matter. Thank you."
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office release, Dowe would, if convicted, face a up to 20 years in prison and a a fine of up to $250,000.
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