U.S. Attorney's Office objects to $50K bail for 4 men charged in jewelry store robbery

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ST. THOMAS - A federal magistrate judge on Thursday set the bail for four men accused of robbing a jewelry store at $50,000 each, despite the objections of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Shaquim Fredericks, 19; Warkim Gabriel, 18; Alvin Thomas, 19; and Chefton Newton, 26, all of St. Thomas, remained detained by the U.S. Marshals Service until at least Monday.

District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller ordered that the defendants be detained until Monday to allow the U.S. Attorney's Office time to file an appeal opposing the bail.

If the U.S. Attorney's Office files an appeal and it is denied, the four men will have the opportunity to pay a 10 percent bond, though they will be under house arrest and will be required to have a third-party custodian and electronic monitoring under the conditions Miller set.

The men were charged with interference with commerce by threats of violence under the Hobbs Act on April 4 after they were arrested March 15 in connection with the armed robbery of a jewelry store on Main Street, St. Thomas, the same day.

V.I. Police arrested two other boys in connection with the robbery, but their identity is protected by the V.I. Code, unless they are bound over as adults to either V.I. Superior Court or District Court.

A seventh person also was involved in the robbery, though V.I. Police have not identified a suspect or announced an arrest.

The seventh person was believed to have gotten away after seven robbers fled into the bushes following the robbery of more than $1 million worth of goods from the Imperial Jewelry Store, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The assailants entered the store about 9:30 a.m. March 15 wearing ski masks and dark clothing, according to the affidavit written by FBI special agent Jackson Purkey. The men were carrying firearms and pointed them at the patrons and employees and took several hundred pieces of jewelry, the affidavit said.

They jumped over the counters, broke the glass displays and threatened the patrons and employees while doing so, according to Purkey's affidavit.

They then fled the store, though V.I. Police officers already had been dispatched to the area and were in pursuit not long after the robbers left the store.

"During the pursuit, several gunshots were fired in the area of the fleeing subjects," Purkey wrote.

The police soon found three of the men - who they identified as Fredericks, Newton and Gabriel - hiding in the bushes with a blue backpack that contained a gold ring with several clear stones and a store tag still attached. Also in the bag was a jewelry dispenser, a cell phone, a gold watch, pens and "what appeared to be homework" belonging to one of the boys arrested in connection with the robbery, the affidavit said.

The police also found masks, clothing, firearms, gloves and additional jewelry in the suspects' possession, according to Purkey.

Thomas was arrested thereafter, and all four tested positive for gunshot residue, according to the affidavit.

Of the four defendants, one provided a statement immediately, admitting that one of the boys arrested was the mastermind behind the robbery, the affidavit said.

It is unclear whether the boys will be bound over as adults or whether they will face federal charges.

If convicted of the federal charges, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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

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