Federal agents target USVI legislature in raid

AP News
Posted: Oct 05, 2011 4:59 PM
Federal agents target USVI legislature in raid

U.S. federal agents raided the legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday, targeting a senator's office and the building's central computer system, according to government officials.

Agents removed all employees from the St. Thomas office of Sen. Alvin Williams Jr. while they conducted their search, said Senate Majority Leader Celestino White.

White said he and Williams were in St. Croix for government business but returned to St. Thomas upon hearing about the raid.

White said he did not know why federal agents requested the search warrants, but he said everyone was cooperating.

"The legislature will not obstruct in any way that investigation," he said.

Williams could not be reached for comment, and his assistant, Gary Sprauve, declined to speak.

Nicholas Peru, special investigator for the island's Office of Inspector General, was present during the raid but declined to speak as well.

FBI spokesman Harry Rodriguez said 25 agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshall Service were involved in the raid as part of an ongoing investigation. He declined to say who was being targeted and whether any evidence has been seized.

White said Williams was shocked to hear about the federal operation.

"He would like to know what is the reason, what is the purpose of searching his computer system," White said.

He added that Williams would keep working as usual despite the investigation, unless a court were to find a public official guilty of breaking the law.

"Until then, that senator is innocent," he said.

Williams, 33, is serving his third term as senator and is chairman of the Human Services, Recreation and Sports Committee. His family owns one of the island's largest heavy equipment retail businesses, which has been awarded contracts by the U.S. and local government, according to his website.