St. John Bank Robbery Suspects Arraigned in Federal Court

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Keven Fessale, Shevaun Browne and Kadeem Thomas were arraigned in federal court on Wednesday, February 8, in connection with a 2011 armed robbery of Merchants Commercial Bank.

The three St. John men are accused of robbing the Estate Chocolate Hole bank of $47,529.30 during an armed robbery on January 11, 2011. All three men were nabbed by federal agents in separate locations across St. John on February 2.

A federal indictment handed down on January 19, 2012, charges Fessale, 22, with Hobbs Act conspiracy, bank robbery by force or violence and possession of a firearm; Browne, 24, with Hobbs Act conspiracy and robbing a bank by force or violence; and Thomas, 22, with Hobbs Act conspiracy and bank robbery by force or violence, according to a report in the V.I. Daily News.

Hobbs Act conspiracy allows the federal government to try robbery cases involving firearms in U.S. District Court, according to the report.

Browne was painted as the ring leader of the three, who organized the robbery and supplied the guns, according to the V.I. Daily News story.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller allowed Browne to return to St. John, on supervised release with electronic monitoring, in his mother’s custody on a 10 percent $25,000 bond, according to the St. Thomas newspaper.

Thomas also returned to St. John last week when Miller ordered his supervised release with electronic monitoring on a 10 percent $25,000 bond and allowed him to work with his mother at an unnamed St. John grocery store, according to the report in the V.I. Daily News.

Fessale remained behind bars last week on a $25,000 bond, according to the report.

The robbery occurred around 2 p.m. on January 11, 2011, when two masked men walked into the bank with three firearms and ordered everyone to the ground, according to a V.I. Police Department prepared statement issued at the time.

After sifting through drawers and collecting cash from several desks at the bank, the two fled in a blue GMC Jimmy and had remained at large until their February 2, 2012 arrest.

Surveillance video cameras recorded the men arriving at the bank, recorded the actual robbery as it was taking place and recorded the robbers leaving Merchants Commercial Bank in a blue Chevy Jimmy, which belonged to Browne, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

The three St. John men will face a jury during a trial tentatively set to begin on March 26 in U.S. District Court, according to the V.I. Daily News report.