ST. CROIX, V.I. – A third man accused of participating in an
alleged scheme to defraud the government through a federal driver’s license
program has been brought back to the Territory to face charges.
Gilani, who was imprisoned in Boston, Mass., awaiting to be extradited, waived
his right to an extradition hearing and was escorted back to St. Croix Tuesday
afternoon by special agents from the Department of Justice.
that we have brought back Syed Gilani to face criminal charges,” Attorney
General Claude Earl Walker said, “this is an important step as the people have
a right to know what happened to the more than $2 million dollars from Homeland
Security that was given to the Virgin Islands between 2008-2011 to implement
REAL ID because as of today, there is no REAL ID in the Virgin Islands. These federal funds are gone, and we had
persons who certified that the work was totally completed in 2014 and vendors
were paid a lot of money, but we have no REAL ID.”
Wednesday morning Gilani, owner of BIZVI, appeared before V.I. Superior Court
Magistrate Miguel Camacho with his attorney Pamela Colon for his
advice-of-rights hearing. Magistrate Miguel
Camacho found there was sufficient evidence to move forward on the charges,
allowed him to be released on posting a $200,000 unsecured bond into the
third-party custody of his wife and ordered him to abide by a number of
court-imposed bail conditions, which include having no contact with his co-defendants.
all, three men – Jerris Browne, former director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles,
Gregory Christian, former Management Information Systems and Gilani – were
taken into custody and charged in connection with the alleged REAL/ID program
of the men faces one count of obtaining money by false pretense, conversion of
government property, embezzlement by public officer, filing false instruments,
falsification of public accounts, fraudulent claims upon the government, false
certificate by public officers and criminally influenced and corrupt
organizations (CICO) conspiracy.
Last week, Brown
and Christian attended an advice-of-rights hearing before V.I. Superior Court
Judge Douglas Brady, who sustained the charges and released both men on their
revealed that the three men allegedly acted in concert to defraud the Virgin
Islands government of more than $2 million of federal funds appropriated for
the BMV’s REAL/ID program “through a pattern of fraud, deception and trickery,”
according to AG Walker.
Congress passed the REAL/ID Act to establish certain standards and security
protocols for states and territories to follow when issuing driver’s licenses
and government-issued identification cards.
The affidavit filed in this matter alleges that the defendants were
engaged in a pattern of criminal activity from 2008 to 2011. Over the course of that period, the
defendants acquired the funds under the guise that they were to be used for the
BMV’s REAL ID program.
“In September of
2008, former BMV Director Jerris Browne submitted an application to the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security requesting funding for the REAL/ID program for
the U.S. Virgin Islands and that application was approved for federal funding,”
AG Walker said during a press conference last week to announce the arrests of
Browne and Christian. “During the fiscal
years of 2008 through 2011, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded
the Virgin Islands grant funding in excess of $2 million to assist the Bureau
of Motor Vehicles with bringing the Virgin Islands into compliance with the
mandate of the REAL/ID program.”
also alleges that Browne then contracted with several business entities, all of
which were owned by Gilani, to manipulate the bidding process by making it
appear that these companies were independent companies engaged in competitive
bidding as required by law, AG Walker said.
further alleges that Browne and Christian certified that work was performed by
Gilani’s companies and actually paid him, but the work was not done. In other instances, items were purchased for
BMV through Gilani, but he did not furnish the BMV with any of the goods, AG
malfeasance was not revealed until 2015 when the current BMV Director Lawrence
Olive discovered that the BMV did not have the functional software application
to carry out the mandates of the REAL/ID program, AG Walker said.
“We did an
extensive investigation based in part on the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security’s seeking answers from the Virgin Islands as to what happened to the
over $2 million that they gave us in 2008-2011 to implement REA/ID,” AG Walker
said. “We have no REAL ID; there is no
AG Walker said
the Department of Justice is “extremely confident with what we have done in
order to make out our case.”