Senator Alvin Williams
As federal agents descended on the V.I. Legislature building on St. Thomas Wednesday morning, October 5, rumors of multiple senators being targeted by an investigation and even the arrest of one spread like wildfire across the airwaves of the Virgin Islands.
When the rumors quieted, however, it became clear that agents had raided only Senator Alvin Williams Jr.’s office and no one had been arrested.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service and V.I. Police Department raided the office of St. Thomas/St. John District Senator Alvin Williams Jr. around 10 a.m. on October 5 executing a federal search warrant signed by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller, according to reports in the V.I. Daily News.
Williams, a third term senator, was on St. Croix at the time to attend a Senate Government Operations, Energy and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. He reportedly flew back to St. Thomas when he heard news of the raid and spent the day meeting with federal agents.
Senate President Ronald Russell was also on St. Croix at the time of the raid, where he was reached by telephone by staff who read the search warrant to him, according to reports. Russell remained on St. Croix, but offered full cooperation with the federal and local agencies.
About 25 agents filed in and out of William’s office and the legislative hall carrying papers, bags and computer equipment, according to reports on St. Thomas Source.
Agents reportedly focused their search on Williams’ computers, both in his senate office and the Senate’s Management Information System division, according to reports.
Details of what prompted the search, however, were not made available to the public. The application for the search warrant, the supporting affidavit and the search warrant itself were all sealed by the court last week.
Wide-spread allegations of impropriety by Williams, including using his office computers for personal business and questions about his course work for his University of Phoenix associate’s degree, have been a hot topic on St. Croix lately.
While Williams has flatly denied all of the allegations, the St. Thomas Source, citing “an informed source” claimed the raid was part of a grand jury investigation into the senator’s personal business.
“According to an informed source, the raid was part of a grand jury investigation into Williams’ activities,” according to the St. Thomas Source. “The source said the probe is focused on allegations that Williams has used his Senate staff for personal business.”
The St. Croix-based blog of the non-profit government watchdog organziation Crucians in Focus, www.cruciansinfocus.com, has detailed those allegations for months. Back in May, Williams’ ex-operations manager and first cousin, Shelley Pervcial, took to the airwaves accusing the senator of having other people complete course work for his online degree, according to the website.
Williams got on the radio himself to deny those allegations, yet Percival continued her accusations of the senator’s improper actions.
“Less than a week after her first declaration that Williams’ Chief of Staff had completed all coursework for Williams’ degrees from the online Phoenix University, Percival returned to the airwaves and not only repeated her earlier accusations, but added much more information about the way Williams allegedly conducts business and spends his legislative budget,” according to www.cruciansinfocus.com.
After news of last week’s raid spread across the big island, the Crucians In Focus blog was speculating about the search as well.
“The obvious speculation is that this is connected with Williams’ reported defrauding of the system at the Phoenix Online University by having a staff worker do the work that led to his online degree,” according to the blog.
Williams is a graduate of the Charlotte Amalie High School and has an associate’s degree from the University of Phoenix. Before winning a senate seat, he was employed as the general manager of his family’s business Alvin Williams Trucking and Heavy Equipment.
The business is one of the largest heavy equipment retail businesses in the Virgin Islands and has earned major contracts for both federal and local government projects in the territory, according to William’s page on the V.I. Legislature website.