Police commissioner: Angelo Hill retired after arrest

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Police Department on Friday clarified its initial statement about the employment status of former Sgt. Angelo Hill - who pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges earlier this week - and said he is no longer with the department and had submitted his retirement papers shortly after being arrested in May.

V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. said that Hill submitted the paperwork immediately after his arrest to initiate his retirement, which went into effect some time before his guilty plea on Monday.

"The process went through. Sometimes it takes a while, but it went through," Querrard said.

On Thursday, V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said that the police department was waiting on paperwork from the District Court before terminating Hill, who the department had placed on unpaid leave immediately after his arrest.

Querrard said Rames statement was "possibly miscommunication."

It is unclear when the paperwork for Hill's retirement was finalized, though Querrard said that it was some time before December.

V.I. Personnel Director Kenneth Hermon Jr. could not be reached Friday to confirm the dates of when Hill's retirement went into effect or when Hill filed his paperwork.

Hill pleaded guilty on Monday in District Court to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

Federal agents have said Hill was ringleader of a drug trafficking ring with Roberto Tapia, the former director of enforcement for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

Because Hill's plea followed his retirement, his collection of pension funds should be unaffected by his guilty plea, Querrard said.

"Everybody has that right," he said. "It's your money."

Hill also was able to collect his last paycheck without issue, though he only was paid up to the date before his arrest, May 25, according to Querrard.

Hill was acting commander of the Leander Jurgen Command in Cruz Bay, St. John, until his arrest and had been a V.I. police officer for 25 years and had no prior criminal record.

Hill, who is scheduled to be sentenced in April, now is facing up to life imprisonment and $10 million in fines.

"As long as you are a law enforcement officer here, you will be treated like anyone else," Querrard said in a statement he issued Friday. "I'm not going to tolerate such behavior. Officers, in fact, should be held to a higher standard."

Tapia, who was arrested in Red Hook by federal agents and found with 7.72 kilograms of cocaine in his backpack, also pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering. Tapia, who also was a V.I. police officer for more than a decade, is facing a sentence of up to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

A third co-defendant, Hector Alcenio, pleaded guilty Thursday to the same charges as Hill and is facing the same sentence.

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

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