Federal Jury Finds Albuquerque Man Guilty of Violating the Hobbs Act by Robbing Businesses Engaged in Interstate Commerce
Defendant Prosecuted under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – Last night a federal jury sitting in Santa Fe, N.M., returned a verdict finding David Savoy Thomas guilty of four counts of violating the Hobbs Act by robbing and attempting to rob commercial businesses involved in interstate commerce after a three-day trial. The guilty verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, and Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden, Jr.
Thomas, 55, of Albuquerque, N.M., was charged with four counts of violating the Hobbs Act by robbing and attempting to rob commercial businesses located in Bernalillo County, N.M., that were involved in interstate commerce, and one count of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in a five-count indictment filed on Dec. 4, 2013. Thomas was arrested on Dec. 30, 2013, after he was transferred from state custody to federal custody to face the charges in the federal indictment. Trial of the case began on March 30, 2015, and concluded last night when the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the four Hobbs Act charges and was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the firearms charge.
The evidence at trial established that Thomas robbed one business in May 2010 and three businesses in 2013. A store clerk employed by a McDonald’s Restaurant located on San Pedro NE in Albuquerque testified about being robbed on May 1, 2010, by a man who ran behind the counter, shoved him away from the register, and took money from his cash register. As the robber ran out of the restaurant, he placed his hands on the restaurant’s glass door, leaving his fingerprints behind.
A second store clerk, employed at a Family Dollar Store on Lomas NE in Albuquerque, testified that three years later, on Aug. 10, 2013, he was robbed by a man who held a large knife against his back, ordered him to open the cash register, and took cash from the cash register. Six days later, on Aug. 16, 2013, a man attempted unsuccessfully to rob the same Family Dollar Store. A third store clerk testified that the man threatened her with a knife before fleeing the store empty-handed after she resisted his efforts to rob the store.
A fourth store clerk at a Check and Go Store located on Lomas NE in Albuquerque testified that she was robbed by a man brandishing a firearm on Oct. 19, 2013. The clerk testified that she opened the store’s safe after the robber threatened her with a gun, and that the robber made off with a large amount of money.
APD officers testified that they responded to the scene of each of the four incidents and processed all available evidence, including fingerprints and surveillance videotape. After the fourth incident in Oct. 2013, an APD officer learned that a fingerprint expert had identified Thomas’s fingerprints on the glass door of the restaurant that was robbed in May 2010, and started an investigation into Thomas. After obtaining a photograph of Thomas and determining that Thomas matched the description of the man who robbed the Family Dollar and the Check and Go, the APD officer included Thomas’s photograph in a photo array of six men. The clerks from the two stores positively identified Thomas as the man who attempted to rob the Family Dollar on Aug. 16, 2013 and the Check and Go on Oct. 19, 2013.
The defense called two witnesses during its case. The first, a professor who testified as an expert, tried to call into question the reliability of eye witness testimony. The second, a former law enforcement officer, testified that he could not tell from surveillance videotape if the robber had brandished a real firearm during the Oct. 19, 2013, robbery.
Thomas has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Thomas faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the four Hobbs Act charges. If deemed to be a career criminal, Thomas faces a penalty of 30 years to life imprisonment on these charges.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department with assistance from the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman Cairns and Kimberly A. Brawley are prosecuting the case.
This case is being prosecuted as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.