Donald Liburd was a cop and a union president. But that didn’t make him immune to becoming a criminal as well. On November 12, Liburd, who had been president of the St. Thomas-St. John Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and a detective on the local police force, pleaded guilty in Virgin Islands Superior Court to embezzling $65,073 in union funds. He then was sentenced to four years in prison, of which three and a half years would be suspended, plus three and a half years of probation upon release. “This is a tragic circumstance when an officer sworn to uphold the law violates the law,” said Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston. Liburd had been arrested this past March following a lengthy investigation. He had resigned his duties as PBA president in the summer of 2011.
Union Corruption Update twice has covered this story. Back in August 2011, members of the Police Benevolent Association voted to file a criminal report alleging misconduct and theft of more than $100,000 in union funds by Liburd. Suspicious rank and file already had voted that June to force him to hold an election within a month. Liburd would not do this. In response, the members removed him from office and replaced him with Police Cpl. Elroy Raymo. A subsequent U.S. Justice Department probe concluded that Liburd, now 48, had written more than $65,000 worth of unauthorized union checks during July 2008-June 2011. In addition, Liburd, during a private meeting with Raymo, admitted he diverted union funds for his own use. A guilty plea was a virtual given at that point.
It’s been a tough road lately for Donald Liburd. The father of 13 children, five of whom he still supports, Liburd has been making ends meet these past couple years as a private security guard. His attorney, Sarah Smith, explained to the court that Liburd’s wife was undergoing costly treatments for a brain tumor. “I’m not the type of person to think that I am above the law,” Liburd to the court. That may be true, but the fact remains that he repeatedly broke it.