Co-conspirator in Tapia drug case gets 4-year sentence


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ST. THOMAS - One of the last co-conspirators to be sentenced in the Roberto Tapia case received a four-year-sentence on Thursday in federal court.

District Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Raymond Brown, 29, after a jury found him guilty of using a phone to facilitate a federal drug crime, only one of 10 counts that he faced.

Brown submitted a brief statement to the judge, though he did not make a statement in court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office presented evidence during Brown's trial, which was held alongside Tapia co-conspirator Walter Hill in late March.

Brown's sentencing came about a year after his arrest on July 17, 2013, as part of the investigation of Tapia, former director of the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division of Environmental Enforcement.

Tapia, 55, also was a former police officer, as was another Tapia co-conspirator, V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill. Tapia used his position of power to conduct his drug deals throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

In November last year, Brown was charged in the 69-count third superseding indictment, along with seven other defendants, including Angelo Hill, Hector Alcenio, Angel Negron-Betran, Eddie Lopez-Lopez, Stephen Torres, Walter Hill and Edwin Monsanto.

Evidence introduced at trial showed that on Dec. 2, 2012, Brown spoke to Tapia on a cell phone to arrange the distribution and transportation of two kilograms of cocaine. The evidence further showed that Tapia then transported the cocaine from St. Thomas to a buyer in Puerto Rico.

In April, Gomez sentenced Tapia, who used his position as a DPNR official and admitted to using his former position with the V.I. Police Department during his smuggling activities, to 70 months imprisonment after Tapia pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering, or using his government position to engage in illicit activity.

Also in April, Gomez sentenced Angelo Hill, age unknown, to 21 months after Hill pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

In May, Gomez sentenced Alcenio, 43, to 30 months after Alcenio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

In June, Gomez sentenced Lopez-Lopez, 36, to 33 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Gomez later sentenced Torres to the same amount of time.

In early July, Gomez sentenced Negron-Beltran, age unknown, to 38 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

The only defendant who has yet to be sentenced is Walter Hill.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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