Senators Question Employee Getting Paid Without Working and GERS Not Getting Its Share

Raymond Williams, right, testified at the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Kurt Vialet, left. (Image from V.I. Legislature video stream)

The V.I. Lottery is not giving GERS what it should and has been paying an employee who was not doing any work, according to Senators.

Sen. Janelle Sarauw told the Source she had heard grumbling from employees about an employee getting paid and not working, so she did her own investigation. She said she was not satisfied with the answers Raymond Williams, executive director, gave her at the Finance Committee budget hearing Tuesday. She emailed, “Nine months paying an employee to stay home because POST said he’s ineligible from November 2021 is just criminal. It sends a horrible message to all employees. I was not satisfied with his (William’s) answer. He acted like he was right, and he was defensive. Continued payment to that employee up until Aug. 11 is simply wrong and illegal.”

Williams said during the hearing that he kept the employee on long enough for the employee to “transition” to a different position.

Sen. Kurt Vialet, who chaired the committee meeting, said he knew of at least a half dozen government employees who did not come to work but still got paid because of to whom they were “connected.”

Also unhappy with Williams’ answers was Sen. Donna Frett Gregory. She said there were a lot of discrepancies in the information being presented to the Senate. She said, “I know for sure that you have not been giving GERS its share.”

Williams read from legislation that said GERS should receive a certain percentage of some of the Lottery’s earnings, with a minimum being $2.2 million. Frett-Gregory said that the minimum was not being met. Williams said the parties needed to get together to clarify the situation.

Shalyn Proctor, the Lottery’s chief financial officer, told senators Tuesday that Lottery had been hit financially by the pandemic, but things were returning to normal, and the territorial lottery expects to generate $22.3 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

She testified along with Williams in support of the Lottery’s budget proposal to the Committee.

She broke down revenue with the traditional game bringing in $9 million. Compensation from contractors is predicted to bring in a little more than $13 million. The big share, almost $12 million, would come from Southland Gaming. Caribbean Lottery Services may bring in $1.6 million.

Williams told Senators that Southland Gaming V. I. has completed and opened its new Entertainment Center on St. John (Parrot Club), making its third gaming center. The Other two are on St. Thomas. He said there were 39 retailers with 615 active gaming machines between St. Thomas and St. John.

The V.I. Lottery currently employs 43 persons with an annual salary of $2.3 million with one vacancy.

Other income comes from fees and licenses. Those earnings are expected to be about $21,500 in the upcoming fiscal year.

Williams said he had met with representatives of the Puerto Rico lottery who told him they sold no tickets directly in the Virgin Islands, and any tickets sold there were by resellers.

Victoria Burgess, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, showed a video that would be the centerpiece of an advertising campaign targeting illegal gaming operations in the territory.

She also announced a new slogan — I AM V.I. Lottery, V.I. Lottery is ME!” Williams said, “This new campaign is designed to empower our customers, our residents, and citizens all. We must develop a stronger sense of pride in our traditional lottery game. We want everyone to own it and feel it.”

Attending the meeting were Donna Frett-Gregory, Janelle Sarauw, Kurt Vialet, Novelle Francis Jr., Marvin Blyden, Samuel CarriĆ³n, Dwayne DeGraff, Kenneth Gittens, Javan James, Franklin Johnson, and Carla Joseph.