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November 21, 2014

Former Executive Director of Virgin Islands Legislature Convicted of Bribery and Extortion

WASHINGTON—After a three-day trial, a federal jury found the former executive director of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands guilty of accepting bribes and extortion in the awarding of contracts with the Legislature.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe of the District of the Virgin Islands, and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office made the announcement.

Louis “Lolo” Willis, 56, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, was convicted of two counts of federal programs bribery and two counts of extortion under color of official right. U.S. District Judge Curtis V. Gomez of the District of the Virgin Islands set the sentencing hearing for Feb. 13, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, Willis was the executive director of the Legislature between 2009 and 2012. His responsibilities included oversight of the major renovation of the Legislature building and awarding and entering into government contracts in connection with the project. Willis was also responsible for authorizing payment to the contractors for their work. Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Willis accepted bribes, including $13,000 in cash and checks, from contractors in exchange for using his official position to secure more than $350,000 in contracting work for the contractors and to ensure they received payment upon completion.

This case was investigated by the FBI-San Juan Field Office’s St. Thomas Resident Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter Mason and Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith of the District of the Virgin Islands. Former Trial Attorneys Tracee Plowell and Jennifer Blackwell and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist assisted in the investigation of the case.

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