Juli Campbell During an interview with the Consortium in October 2018 By ERNICE GilBERT/VI CONSORTIUM
ST. CROIX — United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert for the District of the Virgin Islands announced today that Juli Campbell was sentenced to 14 months in prison for fraud related to FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program. Mrs. Campbell, the owner of a Puerto Rico construction company, pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining disaster relief funds intended to help the territory rebuild following the 2017 hurricanes.
The outcome follows The Consortium’s relentless reporting of Campbell Development’s treatment of contract workers brought to the territory. Our stories also resulted in the raiding of Campbell Development’s office in Peter’s Rest by multiple federal law enforcement arms. The raid occurred on November 2, 2018, with the agents seemingly packing all documents and other items that could serve as evidence in a case. At the time, an agent told The Consortium that because the case was still unfolding, details relative to the matter could not be divulged. Even so, the men packed boxes of documents and other items and placed them in a truck.
Thereafter, charges were levied against Mrs. Campbell, which led to her arrest and eventual guilty plea.
The STEP Program provides federal funds for essential repairs to homes damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. According to the plea agreement previously filed in the case, Campbell operated Campbell Development, LLC, which was a subcontractor performing STEP- funded work in St. Croix. Campbell executed a scheme whereby the company submitted fraudulent invoices and timesheets related to a STEP-funded subcontract, showing work not actually performed. As part of her sentence, Campbell was also ordered to pay $179,033 in restitution.
“Disaster relief funds are intended to aid Virgin Islanders who suffered during the hurricanes” said U.S. Attorney Shappert. “Individuals and contracting companies that fraudulently diverted these funds must be held to answer for their actions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has made disaster fraud a priority and will continue to prosecute individuals and companies that violate federal law.”
“The DHS OIG takes any and all allegations of fraudulent activity seriously and intends to hold accountable those who try to use natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria to take advantage of others,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay H. Donly of the DHS-OIG Miami Field Office. “The DHS OIG will continue to use its investigative resources to stop those who use these circumstances for personal and illegal gain.”
This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General as well as Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nathan Brooks.