Last-Minute Guilty Plea in Case of Bogus Home Repairman


An unlicensed home repairman, accused of taking money from St. Thomas homeowners and leaving projects incomplete, opted to plead guilty the night before his trial was supposed to begin.

Defendant Henry Peters was arrested May 10, 2021, by agents of the Justice Department. Superior Court Judge Renee Gumbs Carty picked a 12-member jury with two alternates by late Wednesday afternoon. After admonishing the jurors with Peters in the courtroom, Carty ordered them to return for opening arguments Thursday morning.

As jurors left the building, preparing for their duties, the defendant signaled the court that he was ready to admit his guilt. On Thursday, the judge accepted Peter’s plea and ordered him to appear for sentencing Nov. 2.

Peters is accused of operating an illegal enterprise after investigators from Justice looked into complaints from homeowners. As the hour approached for the start of the trial, Peters was charged with racketeering under the Criminally Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, five counts of obtaining money under false pretense, and five counts of grand larceny.

” … According to an affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, the investigation revealed that (Peters) presented himself as a licensed contractor to five families on St. Thomas. The victims were seeking repairs to their homes, some following hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Peters offered to perform repair work to their homes, but he never completed the jobs he began. However, Peters collected payments from the victims who reside in Estate Contant, Frydendahl, Estate Bordeaux, and Bolongo Estate, respectively,” said Justice spokesperson Sandra Goomansingh in a statement released at the time of Peter’s arrest.

The May 2021 statement added that when investigators approached Licensing and Consumer Affairs to see if the defendant was indeed a licensed contractor, they found a number of other complaints by homeowners saying Peters allegedly bilked them, too.

Justice has also intervened on similar complaints coming from homeowners on St. Croix. On Feb. 25, 2020, authorities arrested Juan Rosario, an unlicensed repairman. According to a statement issued at the time of his arrest, Rosario allegedly collected $91,688 for repair work on homes in Estates Whim, White Bay, Peter’s Rest, Judith’s Fancy and Tullipan.

As was the case on St. Thomas, authorities said St. Croix homeowners complained that Rosario took their money and left his work uncompleted or never started.

Obtaining money under false pretense violates Title 14, Sec 834 of the Virgin Islands Code. Peters faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison at sentencing.