V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett has sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to replace U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands Gretchen Shappert.
Plaskett’s Communications Director Mike McQuerry sent an excerpt to reporters Friday, but said he could not release the entire letter publicly.
In the excerpt, Plaskett wrote that “it is of critical importance to the Virgin Islands community that we intentionally fill this position with a local representative.”
Shappert received an interim appointment from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Jan. 4, 2018, and V.I. District Court appointed Shappert to the role on April 23, 2018.
Shappert declined to comment when contacted by The Daily News on Friday.
“The circumstances surrounding the tenure of the current U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, Gretchen Shappert, are untenable,” Plaskett wrote. “She refuses to meet with my office even in a courtesy manner, obstructs other federal law enforcement agencies from engaging with local offices if she does not approve of the individuals running those offices — primarily Democrats.”
Plaskett went on to write that Shappert “has exhibited blatantly discriminatory hiring practices, including firing local employees and hiring non-local, Republican leaning Assistant US Attorneys. She has bragged to those within the agency that given the Virgin Islands’ lack of Senate elected official, the territory’s distance and her court appointment — she will not be asked to resign by the new president. That blatant disregard of the president, our inclusion in justice and the democratic process cannot be left unchecked.”
At the time of her interim appointment, Sessions issued a statement saying Shappert had served the U.S. Justice Department for more than 25 years.
Before her work in the Virgin Islands, Shappert had served as assistant director for the Indian, Violent and Cyber Crime Staff in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys since 2010, prior to which she served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from 2004 to 2009. She served as Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1990 to 2004, prosecuting “a wide range of criminal defendants including outlaw motorcycle gangs and violent drug organizations,” according to the Justice Department.
She has also served as an Assistant District Attorney, Assistant Public Defender, and was in private practice prior to her federal service. She received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 1997 and her juris doctorate from Washington & Lee University School of Law in 1980.
Shappert was appointed to replace Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett, who stepped into the position in an acting role after Sessions asked for the resignation of former U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe. Sharpe was among 46 U.S. attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama administration who were asked to resign by Sessions when the administration of former President Donald Trump took power.