Barnes’ Lawyer Complains as Sentencing Date Approaches

A federal judge on Tuesday warned legal teams and others involved in a 2019 fraud case that they must meet all court-ordered deadlines in advance of a scheduled sentencing. The subject of that hearing is a former contractor of the Casino Control Commission who faced justice along with the agency’s former director.

Stephanie Barnes (Source file photo)

Defendant Stephanie Barnes has asked the court to throw out the December 2021 jury verdict that found her guilty of stealing government program funds, converting government property for her personal use, and filing false tax returns.

Chief District Court Judge Robert Molloy scheduled a hearing on the motion to dismiss the verdict for Jan. 20 — the same day that Barnes’ sentencing is set to take place in District Court on St. Croix if the motion fails.

Barnes and former casino Commission Director Violet Ann Golden were accused of diverting federal funds to pay for trips to the U.S. mainland, apparel, and entertainment. Many of the trips were described as official business by Golden. At the time, Barnes was working under contract to conduct classes for gambling disorders, a role prosecutors said she was not trained for.

Golden pleaded guilty and served a prison sentence. Barnes opted for a jury trial and was found guilty.

But now, with the January sentencing date looming, defense attorney Miguel Oppenheimer told the court he was still waiting to receive a copy of the presentencing report. Oppenheimer filed a notice on Monday, saying he could not adequately prepare to refute any claims made by government lawyers in the report unless he could review it in advance.

Then, Barnes’ lawyer asked the court to grant an extension on the Nov. 14 deadline for both legal teams to argue in writing the points made in the report. Oppenheimer began representing Barnes in August after she won approval from the court to dismiss the defense lawyer serving at that time.

On Tuesday, Molloy granted the extension — to Dec. 29 — but left the hearing dates in place. Molloy also told all parties to the case to adhere to deadlines laid out in his latest order using the word “shall,” making the directive one that must be met.

Barnes could receive a maximum of 10 years in prison at sentencing. She has been held at a federal detention facility in Puerto Rico since Dec. 27.