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USVI governor pardons convicted former senator
Published on September 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST THOMAS, USVI -- The governor of the US Virgin Islands, John de Jongh, said on Wednesday that he is pardoning a former senator, who was convicted of failure to file income tax returns, so she can again run for public office.

In 2009, Alicia ‘Chucky’ Hansen received a three-year suspended sentence for a violation of income tax laws. She was on probation for three years and performed 600 hours of community service.

Last week, the USVI Supreme Court said Hansen was barred from running for office again because she'd been convicted of a crime of "moral turpitude."

john_de_jongh8.jpg
Governor John de Jongh
In a statement on Wednesday, de Jongh said he was not questioning the past illegal acts by the senator to which she pleaded guilty, nor questioning the fact that these crimes have been definitively defined by the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands as crimes of moral turpitude.

“Those determinations have been made,” he said.

However, de Jongh said he was not comfortable with an outcome that denies the voters of St Croix an opportunity to decide again for themselves what they have twice before decided during previous elections.

“It was publicly known at the time of those elections that the senator had been convicted of these crimes. It was also known that she had completed her sentence and fulfilled the obligations that followed from her conviction and sentencing. Moreover, her candidacy was challenged in each of those election cycles and the election system qualified her and placed her name on the ballot for each of those two elections. She was elected in both,” he pointed out.

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Alicia ‘Chucky’ Hansen
Having again been initially certified as a candidate, the challenge to Hansen’s eligibility was taken to the highest level in the judicial system, and a determination was made that the crimes to which she pleaded guilty would disqualify her from service in the legislature unless she is pardoned.

“She has asked for that pardon. And I shall grant it because I believe that the wrong that she committed stands, as it has stood, as a mark against her and her record, but that it is properly for those who have elected her to public office knowing the facts of her conviction to decide whether she should serve again,” de John said.

“They will have an opportunity in November to decide whether anything has changed and it is my view that the voters should make the decision with respect to her continued service... the proper decision-makers with respect to the senator’s continued service should be the voters of the island of St Croix,” he explained.

De Jongh acknowledged that his decision is a controversial one that will provoke much emotion and discussion.

“However, after much soul searching, I have concluded that the best decision I can make is the one I have made because I know that that decision will be immediately put to the test of ratification by the electorate of St Croix,” he concluded.
 
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