The V.I. Police sergeant indicted earlier this year for his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring organized in part by former Planning and Natural Resources Chief Enforcement Officer Roberto Tapia has been allowed to go back to work at his family’s car rental business pending the outcome of the case.
A motion to modify the conditions of Angelo Hill’s release was considered by V.I. District Court Judge Ruth Miller during a Wednesday pretrial conference on St. Thomas. Hill has been out on bail since he was indicted in May, but has been confined to his house and electronically monitored. The motion, according to court documents, was filed so that Hill could continue to support his two children.
In her written order, Miller said that the government had initially opposed the motion but eventually deferred to the probation office, which "had no objection to the request."
Miller expressed her own concerns at Wednesday’s hearing, saying that she feared allowing Hill to work and transport passengers around St. John could violate other bail conditions – specifically, that he could not come into contact with individuals involved in the case or potential witnesses.
In granting the motion, Miller set new conditions, which allowed Hill to work at the car rental only from Monday through Friday between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. Hill was given half an hour of travel time to and from his house and the business but has to remain in the custody of one of his third party custodians.
Tapia was initially arrested in mid-May by federal agents and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The arrest of co-conspirators Stephen Torres and Eddie Lopez-Lopez, along with Hill, quickly followed and most recently, a new document expanding the charges against the men and charging them under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) was filed.
The group, according to the indictment, engaged in a "pattern of racketeering activity" from September 2012 to May 2013, while Tapia took advantage of his position at DPNR, using his official credentials, uniform, firearms and even marine vessels to allegedly perpetrate the crimes.
Recent arrests in the case include Raymond Brown, Edwin Monsanto and Hector Alcenio. At this point, Alcenio’s attorney is seeking to sever his client from the case, since he is only named in a few of the counts and not included in the RICO charges.
Miller declined to decide on any other motions during Wednesday’s pretrial, saying that they will be taken up by District Court Judge Curtis Gomez during the trial.