Friday, June 25, 2004

USVI: Immigration inspector indicted again

ST. THOMAS - A former supervisory immigration inspector, his wife and her brother, who federal investigators say helped illegal immigrants obtain fraudulent documents and pass inspection for thousands of dollars, will have their second trial in District Court starting Aug. 23.

Former Customs inspector Pedro Vega, his wife, Ignacia Veras De Los Santos, and her brother, Augustin Veras De Los Santos, will be tried on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, document fraud, bribery and obstruction.

Earlier this month, a District Court jury could not decide whether the defendants were guilty of any of the charges they face despite deliberating for longer than a day. District Judge Stanley Brotman, presiding over the case because District Judge Thomas Moore recused himself, declared a hung jury and sent the jurors home.

On Wednesday, the defendants appeared in court again. A grand jury handed up a revised indictment - sealed by the court - on June 10. Wednesday afternoon, the three defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges in the new indictment.

The new indictment is not available to the public. According to documents in the case file, no new types of charges were added. The last indictment, handed up in November, listed 24 counts against the defendants.

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