News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. May 9, 2014: Louis “Lolo” Willis, the former executive director of the Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands, has been slapped with bribery and extortion charges by the U.S. government.
Willis, 56, was indicted yesterday, May 8, 2014, by a federal grand jury in the U.S. Virgin Islands for accepting bribes and engaging in extortion in the award of contracts with the Legislature.
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.
Willis allegedly 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, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe for the District of the Virgin Islands.
The charges come just months after Willis, former V.I. Internal Revenue Bureau director, was arrested on tax fraud charges in February. Willis is accused of understating more than two years of Gross Receipts Tax returns by almost $3 million dollars – creating a tax liability of almost $120,000 – on behalf of Gerard Castor, president of Balbo Construction Inc.