U.S. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez sentenced two men on Wednesday for their roles in the robbery of two St. Thomas jewelry store, acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett announced. Both robberies involved the use of firearms.
Turrel Thomas, 21, of St. Kitts, was sentenced to seven years and seven months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Raheem Miller, also known as “Caesar,” a 24-year-old Thomian, was sentenced to nine years and 11 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Gomez also ordered Thomas and Miller to perform 400 hours of community service each, and pay a special assessment of $200 and $300, respectively.
On Feb. 21, Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm during a federal crime of violence. On the same day, Miller pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
The Hobbs Act is a federal law prohibiting interfering with interstate commerce by force or embezzlement by any means whatsoever. The law can be used to elevate otherwise local crimes to federal offenses.
According to the plea agreements, Thomas and Miller conspired with others to rob Signature Jewelers on Aug. 19, 2015, and 3G’s Jewelry and Repair on Sept. 14, 2015. During both robberies, weapons were brandished and the robbers used duct tape to bind and gag victims before fleeing the store with cash and merchandise.
On June 29, Judge Gomez sentenced another member of the conspiracy, 34-year-old Aracelis N. Ayala, also known as “Gordita” or “Fluff,” to 11 years’ in prison and five years of supervised release. On Feb. 23, 2017, a federal jury found Ayala guilty of one count of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of first-degree robbery.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the V.I. Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anna A. Vlasova and Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.