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Two Dominican Republic Natives Plead Guilty in McDonald’s Shotgun Robbery at Lockhart Gardens

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A Dominican Republic native will be given at least a mandatory minimum 10-year federal prison sentence in four months for firing a weapon during the shotgun robbery of the McDonald’s restaurant at Lockhart Gardens in late March, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

Hanselo Recio, 18, and Junior Feliz, 22, each of the Dominican Republic, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court on St. Thomas for their roles in the robbery of a McDonald’s restaurant in Charlotte Amalie East, Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett said.

Recio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and Feliz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, Hewlett said.

Recio and Feliz were remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal pending sentencing on October 5, 2017.

According to plea agreements filed with the court, on March 25, 2017, members of the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) responded to reports of a robbery at the McDonald’s restaurant in the Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center.

After an exchange of gunfire, Recio, who was armed and inside the McDonald’s restaurant, surrendered and was taken into custody.

Feliz was the driver of the getaway car.

Three other men also are charged in District Court in the robbery.

Recio faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and a mandatory 10-year consecutive sentence for discharge of a firearm during a federal crime of violence.

Feliz faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery.

Troy Tittley, a former V.I. Department of Justice employee who worked in the Schneider Regional Medical Center pathology department was charged by indictment on May 19 with Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and conspiracy to possess a firearm during a crime of violence,

In an official Virgin Islands government autopsy report, Juan de Dios, 18, of the Dominican Republic was accused by local forensics “experts” of having killed himself with his own shotgun during the robbery, even though police and other authorities exchanged gunfire with him during the March 25 robbery attempt.

A police press conference three days after the incident discounted the possibility that de Dios intentionally killed himself during the robbery.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the VIPD.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.

GONE WITH GOD: Juan de Dios, 17, (means: “John of God in Spanish) of the Dominican Republic was shot to death by federal authorities as he stood inside the McDonald’s at Lockhart Gardens in St. Thomas with a shotgun in his hands on March 25. De Dios was a promising local boxing talent according to Julian “The Hawk” Jackson prior to his untimely death during the foiled robbery attempt.

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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 50 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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