St. Croix’s Joel Rivera Admits Role In Pistol Whipping And Home Invasion-Car Jacking of Former Catholic Priest
CHRISTIANSTED – A St. Croix man admitted to his role in a pistol-whipping home invasion of a former priest and his wife that ended in a car jacking.
Joel G. Rivera, 33, pled guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of using a firearm during a violent crime and one count of carjacking, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.
The firearm offense carries a mandatory minimum of seven years imprisonment, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release up to five years.
The carjacking offense carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release up to five years.
Sentencing is set for August 21, 2019.
According to court documents, in the early morning hours of September 10, 2017, the defendant, along with two co-defendants, broke into the home of Stephen O’Dea and Kathryn Duncan, while brandishing a firearm.
The defendants physically assaulted Mr. O’Dea and threatened to kill the couple while demanding money.
The defendants forced the couple at gunpoint into the rear seat of Mr. O’Dea’s Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck and drove to the location where Mr. O’Dea had left his wallet.
After obtaining the wallet, the defendants fled in the pickup truck and Mr. O’Dea’s Jeep Wrangler that was located at his residence.
In addition to the vehicles, defendants stole $200 in currency, two iPhones valued at $600 each, and an iPad valued at $200.
O’Dea is a native of Ireland and former Roman Catholic priest who now gives horseback riding lessons on St. Croix.
The Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case.
It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Huston.