Two St. Thomas men, Arnold Malone and Jabari Hodge, pleaded guilty Monday in separate, unrelated cases to being felons in possession of firearms, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced.
Arnold Malone, 44, of St. Thomas pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to court documents, on Aug. 22, 2019, officers from the V.I. Police Department responded to a call that an individual had discharged a firearm on St. Thomas.
When the officers arrived, they were unable to locate the man. Moments later, central dispatch advised the officers that the man had returned and discharged his firearm inside of a business establishment after he was denied entry by the manager. The officers traveled to the business establishment, and the manager advised them that the man was in the alley.
Officers made contact with the man, who was later identified as the defendant, Malone, and asked to speak with him in reference to the shooting. Officers asked the defendant if he had a license to possess a firearm in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The defendant said he did not, but when officers patted him down, they discovered a Lallamar Minimax X45 .45 caliber handgun with an extended magazine containing nine rounds.
Prior to that date, the defendant had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and was not authorized to carry a firearm under federal law.
Malone faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a three-year term of supervised release and a fine of as much as $250,000. However, should the court determine that the defendant is an armed career criminal then the defendant will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment from 15 years to life.
Jabari Hodge, 29, of St. Thomas pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas, to being a felon in possession of a firearm, Shappert said.
According to court documents, at about 1:10 a.m. on Oct. 6, VIPD officers approached the defendant, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his parked vehicle, with the driver’s side door open, in the parking lot of a shopping center in the Red Hook area. The defendant was the only person in the vehicle. Upon approaching the defendant, one of the officers noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The officer saw what appeared to be marijuana on the floorboard near the defendant’s feet. Another VIPD officer noticed a partially opened bag with what appeared to be a jar containing marijuana inside.
The officers informed the defendant that they were going to search the vehicle, at which point the defendant stated, “Just take the weed and let me go.” The officers proceeded to search the vehicle and located a fully loaded, silver and black 9mm Kel Tec handgun with one round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine.
Prior to his apprehension, the defendant had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and was not authorized to possess a firearm under federal law.
Hodge faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a three-year term of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. However, should the court determine that the defendant is an armed career criminal, then the defendant will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life imprisonment.
Both cases were investigated by the VIPD in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan Albino.