Former USVI senator charged with wire fraud and embezzlement of legislative funds
ST THOMAS - A former US Virgin Islands senator was arrested on June 29, 2016, in Modena, Italy, and extradited on Wednesday for allegedly defrauding the government of the USVI of tens of thousands of dollars while he served as a senator in the territorial legislature.
Wayne Anthony Gunnar James, 55, of St Croix, USVI, was indicted on October 1, 2015, with two counts of wire fraud and one count of federal program embezzlement.
According to the indictment, from 2009 to 2011, James served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Youth, Education and Culture in the 28th Legislature of the Virgin Islands. While serving as the chair, James allegedly obtained tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for the purpose of acquiring and translating historical documents related to the “Fireburn,” an 1878 uprising by freed slaves in St Croix.
The indictment alleges that James submitted false documents to the legislature and received cash advances in order to conduct historical research on behalf of the people of the USVI. James embezzled the cash advances for his own personal benefit instead of using them for the intended purposes, according to the indictment.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.