Federal Jury Convicts St. Croix Woman of Participating in a Hobbs Act Robbery Conspiracy
St. Thomas, USVI – On February 23, 2017, Aracelis N. Ayala a/k/a "Gordita" a/k/a "Fluff," 34, was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of robbery in the first degree, United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced.
Ayala faces up to 20 years on each of the Hobbs Act robbery and local robbery charges and a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of seven years for the brandishing of a firearm charge. Judge Curtis V. Gomez remanded Ayala into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending her sentencing on June 29, 2017.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Ayala was a member of a robbery crew that conspired to rob Signature Jewelers on August 19, 2015. Ayala conspired with other individuals to rob the store by providing cash and a handgun, renting a vehicle, and securing hotel rooms on St. Thomas. Upon entering the store, Ayala’s cohorts brandished a handgun to threaten the store employees and used duct tape to bind and gag them before fleeing with cash and merchandise.
Other members of the conspiracy, Turrel Thomas, 21, and Raheem Miller a/k/a "Caesar," 24, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and related firearm offenses. All defendants were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing on June 22, 2017.
This case is a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virgin Islands Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anna A. Vlasova and Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.