St. Thomas man convicted in Kmart robbery, shooting


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ST. THOMAS - A 29-year-old man now faces up to 80 years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of robbing $38,200 from a local Kmart and shooting two security guards in the process.

Jurors reached a verdict Wednesday after the three-day trial of Richard Antonio Hodge Jr. in U.S. District Court that included testimony from both the guards and several witnesses to the crime.

Hodge shot at a Ranger American Armored Service messenger and his supervisor in the mid-afternoon robbery Dec. 3 in the Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center, according to court documents. Though one guard was critically injured at the time, both recovered from their gunshot wounds.

The $38,200 never was recovered, nor was the firearm used in the robbery, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Joycelyn Hewlett.

The Ranger American employees were stopping at Kmart, where the messenger delivered 500,000 coins to Kmart and also picked up a $33,500 deposit from the store, placing it in a black leather bag, according to the testimony from the messenger. Additionally, the messenger picked up $4,700 from the AT&T kiosk within the store.

When the messenger was bringing the money back to the armored vehicle, Hodge shot the two guards and took the money before running across Centerline Road into the Oswald Harris Court housing community, according to court documents.

One of the two guards, the one who was not critically injured at the time, pursued Hodge with the assistance of an off-duty police officer who also is a taxi driver.

They lost Hodge in the pursuit, though police located Hodge hiding in the bushes about 45 minutes later, Hewlett said.

Hodge, who has been in custody since his arrest, was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing, which the court scheduled for Oct. 10, Hewlett said.

After deliberating for nearly a day, the jury convicted Hodge of interfering with commerce by robbery; discharge of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence; unauthorized possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence; assault with intent to commit murder, robbery and reckless endangerment.

The jury acquitted Hodge of one count of discharge of a firearm during the commission of an attempted murder; two counts of attempted murder; and use of a firearm during the commission of an attempted murder.

Hodge faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the federal Hobbs Act robbery. The Hobbs Act involves the delay or obstruction of commerce or the movement of a commodity by robbery.

Hodge also faces a mandatory consecutive 10 years on the federal firearms offense; a minimum penalty of 15 years and up to 20 years in prison on the territorial firearms offense; a maximum of 15 years in prison on the territorial first-degree assault conviction; a maximum of 20 years in prison on the territorial robbery conviction; and a maximum of 10 years on the reckless endangerment conviction. Hodge also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 on each of the federal offenses, $25,000 on the territorial offenses, and a special assessment of $300.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the V.I. Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked together on the case alongside Nelson Jones, prosecutor for the case.

Federal Public Defender Omodare Jupiter acted as Hodge's defense attorney, and District Judge Curtis Gomez presided over the case.

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

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