St. John Tradewinds News

FBI Scammers Back in Jail

ST. THOMAS — A St. John couple who pleaded guilty of posing as FBI recruiters in 2015 are back in jail. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez revoked probation for defendants Yamini Potter, 31 and Alana Liburd, 36.

Potter and Liburd were on the verge of completing supervised release as part of the sentencing in that case, but probation officials were notified that the two were engaged in a new and similar scheme. This time the couple was accused of telling a St. Croix woman they could help her get a job at the Juan Luis Hospital in exchange for $1,000.

Potter was found guilty of obtaining money by false pretense, failing to notify law enforcement after a police report was filed against him. He was also cited for violating probation by failing to perform mandated community service.

Liburd was found in violation of her probation for associating with a known felon — Potter — and associating with someone who was breaking the law.

The pair pleaded guilty for the FBI recruitment scheme in July 2015. Potter was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to repay $6,100 in restitution. Liburd was sentenced to six months and allowed to report to jail on the weekends.

This time around, Gomez sentenced Potter to eight months in prison and four months of supervised release for the latest set of offenses. Liburd was sentenced to four months, with eight months of supervised release.

Last week on Wednesday in District Court, the victim of the scheme, Chrystina Clendinen, appeared on the witness stand.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia Smith led Clendinen through a transcript of a phone conversation with Potter from 2016. In that transcript, the woman confronted the accused with her doubts that the promised job existed.

Liburd didn’t enter the picture until later when she posed as the secretary of a fictitious person who was supposed to hire Clendinen. Liburd also signed one of the receipts sent to Clendinen after she made a payment.

Potter told the victim the money was to cover a processing fee for the job application and the cost of the uniform she would wear, once hired.

Then, Clendinen told the court, she began to wonder who Liburd was. The witness said she sought information through an Internet search and came across the reports about the 2014 arrest when Potter and Liburd were arrested and charged as posing as FBI recruiting officers.

It was then, Clendinen said, she began to think she was the target of a scam. She also found out that Liburd was related to former Senator-At-Large Almando “Rocky” Liburd.

She contacted Sen. Liburd by phone and arranged a meeting. When Alana Liburd’s father heard the complaint, the witness told the court he said, “Not this again.”

He assured Clendinen she would get her money back. A short time later, Alana Liburd called and said she would return the money, paying in two installments over a two week period.

Defense attorney David Cattie asked Gomez to understand Liburd’s devotion to Potter, who was described in an earlier court hearing as her fiancé. “Love is blind,” Cattie said. Whenever Potter comes up with a scheme to obtain money and gets into trouble, Liburd bails him out.

But Gomez said, “Isn’t this the third time you’ve been before the court with this client?”

Smith called it a pattern with Potter. She told the court he used other people to defend or cover for his actions and had done so all his life. It was time for him, she said, to grow up.

The two were remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals at the end of the hearing.