Case Caption: St. Clair DeSilvia v People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S.Ct.Crim. No.: 2010-0051Date: 09/29/2011Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In a prosecution for procuring false instruments and making fraudulent claims upon the government, there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to allow a jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of knowingly procuring false instruments under 14 V.I.C. §795, by proof that the substantive crime was committed and that this defendant knew of the crime and attempted to facilitate it. A brief and isolated improper statement during closing argument by the prosecutor was harmless in light of the nature of the comment, the instructions given by the trial judge, and the strength of the evidence against this defendant as it pertained to the charge under 14 V.I.C. §795. However, there was insufficient evidence to sustain the defendant's conviction for making fraudulent claims upon the government pursuant to 14 V.I.C. § 843(3) by aiding and abetting another through the preparation of falsified vehicle registration and inspection lane checklist documents for filing at a window of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The People failed to prove that the substantive crime was committed, and thus the present defendant cannot be convicted as a principal for aiding and abetting in the commission of that crime. The trial court therefore erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal with regard to his charge of violating 14 V.I.C. § 843(3). The judgment of the Superior Court is affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion