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Robbery Team Sentenced for Gold Corner Heist

Three of four men involved in the Sept. 2020 robbery have been sentenced in District Court; the fourth defendant is set for sentencing Jan. 5 (Photo by Gems and Gold Corner)

Three people who have admitted their roles in a 2020 jewelry store robbery on Veterans Drive, St. Thomas, were sentenced to federal prison at hearings conducted over two days.

On Wednesday, a federal judge set the penalty for the man who drove two masked gunmen to Gems and Gold Corner Jewelry Store on Sept. 19, 2019.

One of two gunmen who entered the store and an associate who made a car available to offload weapons and stolen goods were sentenced Tuesday before District Court Judge Juan Sanchez. Defendant Shamar Webster, the gunman, was given 10 years, and five months.

Investigators told the court they found one of the firearms used in the robbery after searching a car operated by defendant Shemelle Isaac. Jewelry also found in that search was identified by the store owner and valued at $26,000.

Sanchez sentenced Isaac to 30 months and credited him for time served.

Getaway car driver Jamari Benjamin got three years in prison. Just before pronouncing the sentence, the judge told him he came to court prepared to hand down a stiffer penalty.

“He was an accomplice; hatched a plan that was implemented in extraordinary detail … This is a very serious offense,” Sanchez said.

The gravity of the smash-and-grab gunpoint robbery became apparent when U.S. Attorney Delia Smith played recordings from security cameras that captured the incident. Two masked men, one identified as Webster, stepped out of a vehicle outside the doors of Gold Corner, and entered pointing guns at two security guards standing in front.

Four employees and the business owner were seen being quickly herded to the back of the store and ordered to lie down, hands extended. On camera, one of the gunmen was seen striking the owner in the head with a gun butt.

Glass casings were smashed and the robbery began, with Webster and a second man identified as Tashawn Warner grabbing fistsfull of gold chains and stuffing them into a bag. When the bag was full, one defendant was seen on camera stuffing merchandise into his pockets.

Recorded images showed how the pair fled the store and returned to the vehicle, which made a U-turn onto Veterans drive, heading west. Inside the store, employees rushed to the aid of the store owner, who was bleeding from a head wound.

Smith told the court the estimated gross value of the stolen goods was $1.2 million. Benjamin was given a chance to make a pre-sentencing statement.

With his relatives watching, he stood before the judge, and paused before speaking.

“I’m sorry for all the harm I caused by my actions … At the time I think I was just being a follower instead of being a leader. I don’t even know why I was following the people I was following. I truly made a mistake,” he said.

In addition to the jail term, Benjamin was given another three years of supervised release. Along with his codefendants, he was also ordered to pay jointly $510,000 in restitution.

A final sentencing hearing is set for Thursday when Warner, the second gunman, is expected to hear his fate.

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