A federal grand jury on Thursday returned a 10-count indictment against three men – in a pair of 2015 jewelry store robberies on St. Thomas, robberies, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced.
The suspects are Aracelis N. Ayala, 34, also known as Gordita and Fluff, Turrel Thomas, 21, and Raheem Miller, 21, also known as Caesar. They are charged with two Hobbs Act robberies, conspiracy, related gun charges, and territorial offenses. According to the U.S. Justice Department website, the Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce "in any way or degree." Section 1951 also proscribes conspiracy to commit robbery or extortion without reference to the conspiracy statute.
Ayala and Thomas made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cannon Friday on St. Croix, and Miller made his initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 10-count indictment is the result of an investigation into the robberies of two St. Thomas jewelry stores – Signature Jewelers on Aug. 19, 2015, and 3G’s Jewelry and Repair on Sept. 14, 2015. According to the indictment, the men conspired to rob the stores and brandished weapons to threaten and intimidate store employees. The robbers used duct tape to bind and gag the victims and then fled the store with cash and merchandise.
If convicted, they face up to 20 years each on each of the Hobbs Act robbery and local robbery charges, mandatory seven- and 25-year consecutive sentences for each brandishing of a firearm charge; and a mandatory minimum of 15 years on each of the territorial firearms charge.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Scarpelli, Criminal Chief Christian A. Fisanick, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna A. Vlasova.