After a three-day trial in U.S. District Court last week, a federal jury found two St. John men guilty of a 2011 armed robbery of Merchants Commercial Bank.
On Wednesday, March 28, a federal jury convicted Shevaun Browne, 25, and Kadeem Thomas, 22, both of St. John, of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting armed bank robbery.
Thomas was also convicted of using and carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Browne and Thomas face maximum sentences of 25 years behind bars, and $250,000 in fines, for the conspiracy and bank robbery convictions, according to a prepared statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
For the firearm conviction, Thomas also faces an additional maximum penalty of five years in prison, according to the statement.
The two men were convicted of robbing Merchants Commercial Bank in Estate Chocolate Hole of $47,529 on January 11, 2011.
A third defendant in the case, Keven Fessale, 22 also of St. John, accepted a plea agreement from federal officials last month and gave testimony for the prosecution, according to a report in the V.I. Daily News.
As part of the March 8 agreement, Fessale pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the DOJ statement. Fessale is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14 in U.S. District Court.
During the trial, Fessale testified that the three childhood friends had met “to discuss the mechanics of fleeing a small business on a small island with a lot of cash,” according to the Daily News report.
Evidence presented at trial painted Browne as the ring leader and as the person who provided the firearm, a .38 silver handgun, used during the robbery, according to the DOJ statement.
Browne and Thomas, who had been out on bail, were immediately remanded to the Bureau of Corrections following the conviction last week. They are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court on June 28.
In the wake of the January 2011 armed bank robbery, V.I. Police Department officials announced that two masked men, one holding a firearm, walked into the bank and ordered everyone to the ground.
One robber went through the drawers and collected cash from several desks before fleeing in a blue GMC Jimmy which belonged to Browne. The vehicle was discovered abandoned on a dead end street up the hill from Merchants Commercial Bank, police announced after the robbery.
No suspects, however, were detained at that time.
The three suspects remained at large on St. John until February 2, 2012, when federal officials nabbed all three men at various locations on St. John.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nelson Jones and Ishmael Meyers, according to DOJ statement.