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Two Virgin Islanders, Including Aracelis ‘Fluff,’ and One Philly Native Indicted For String of Jewelry Store Robberies In St. Thomas


INDICTED: Raheem “Caesar” Miller of Philadelphia

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A federal grand jury has returned indictments against two Virgin Islanders and one Pennsylvania native in connection with a string of jewelry store robberies in St. Thomas in 2015.

The United States grand jury returned a 10-count indictment on Thursday against Aracelis N. “Fluff” Ayala aka “Gordita,” 34, Turrel Thomas, 21, and Raheem “Caesar” Miller, 24, charging them with two Hobbs Act robberies, conspiracy, related gun charges, and territorial offenses, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

On November 18, 2016, Ayala and Thomas made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cannon on St. Croix. Miller made his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The 10-count indictment is the result of an investigation into Hobbs Act robberies of two jewelry stores on St. Thomas: Signature Jewelers on August 19, 2015, and 3G’s Jewelry and Repair on September 14, 2015, Sharpe said.

According to the Indictment, these individuals conspired to rob the stores and brandished weapons to threaten and intimidate store employees. The robbers used duct tape to bind and gag the victims and then fled the store with cash and merchandise.

If convicted, these individuals face up to 20 years on each of the Hobbs Act robbery and local robbery charges; mandatory 7- and 25-year consecutive sentences for each brandishing of a firearm charge; and a mandatory minimum of 15 years on each of the territorial firearms charge.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

It is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Scarpelli, criminal chief Christian Fisanick, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Vlasova.

Sharpe said that an indictment is merely a formal criminal charging document and is not evidence in and of itself of guilt.

“Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty,” he said.

Gordita means “fat woman” in Spanish.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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