Judge Sets Golden Sentencing for May 14

Casino Control Commission Chair Violet Ann Golden testifies before the Legislature in 2015. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, the V.I. Legislature)
In 2015, Violet Ann Golden testifies as chairwoman of the Casino Control Commission. (File photo by Barry Leerdam, the V.I. Legislature)

Violet Anne Golden, the former director of the V.I. Casino Control Commission, formally admitted taking more than a quarter of a million dollars in government funds as part of a plea deal finalized Jan. 2.

The admission came during a hearing Tuesday in the District Court of St. Thomas.

Golden agreed to cooperate with federal authorities pursuing cases against others accused of stealing federal program funds.

The formal change-of-plea-hearing took place before District Court Judge Curtis Gomez. The judge set sentencing for Golden for 9 a.m. May 14. The defendant was then remanded into the custody of U.S. marshals.

Golden agreed to plead guilty to one count of federal program fund theft and one count of failing to file a tax return. She also agreed to assist federal prosecutors in their continuing investigation of former co-defendant Stephanie Barnes.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the remaining charges in a superseding indictment.

The former director and Barnes – a contractor hired to create a program for compulsive gamblers – were initially charged on July 11. Charges included theft of federal program funds, money laundering, making fraudulent claims upon the government and conversion of government funds. The charges arose from the findings of a Sept. 6, 2018, audit by the V.I. Office of the Inspector General.

The audit found a pattern of unauthorized expenditures and abuse of a government-issued credit card that between 2013 and 2016.

Charges against Barnes are still pending, with a trial set to begin March 30.