Former Executive Director of Virgin Islands Legislature Charged with Bribery and Extortion in Award of Government Contracts
The former e xecutive director of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands was indicted today by a federal grand jury in the Virgin Islands for accepting bribes and engaging in extortion in the award of contracts with the Legislature, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe for the District of the Virgin Islands.
The indictment charges Louis “Lolo” Willis, 56, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, with three counts of federal programs bribery and three counts of extortion under color of official right.
According to the indictment, Willis was the executive director of the Legislature between 2009 and 2012. One of his responsibilities included oversight of the renovation of the Legislature building, which included awarding and entering into contracts on behalf of the Legislature. These contracts included contracts for general construction, air-conditioning services and carpentry, which were not publicly bid. Willis was also responsible for paying the contractors for their work. As alleged in the indictment, Willis accepted payments, including, among other things, thousands of dollars in cash, from three contractors in exchange for using his official position to secure contracting work for the contractors and to ensure they received payment upon completion.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division, the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter Mason and Jennifer Blackwell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Anderson of the District of the Virgin Islands.