St. Thomas — A convicted felon who secured law enforcement clearance to apply for a ferry captain’s license and captained a private resort ferry through the U.S. and British Virgin Islands unfettered, Walter Hill Jr. of St. John was the final person sentenced in the prosecution of members of a reportedly decade-long drug importation conspiracy spanning the Virgin Islands run by top U.S.V.I. law enforcement officials and received the stiffest sentence.
Walter Hill Jr., 46, was sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, 10 years of supervised release, a $300 special monetary assessment and 300 hours of community service by U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez who oversaw the trial of nine men involved in the drug conspiracy.
Walter Hill was convicted on March 27 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and the use of a communication device — a telephone — in a drug crime.
Walter Hill’s cousin, Angelo Hill of St. John, a V.I. Police Department Sergeant and Commander of the VIPD’s St. John Leander Jurgen Command at the time of his arrest, was also convicted in the conspiracy for aiding and abetting V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Chief of Environmental Enforcement Roberto Tapia, 55, in the illegal drug enterprise.
Convicted Felon Did Not Cooperate With Authorities
Walter Hill Jr. was charged on Nov. 7, 2013, in a 69-count indictment along with Tapia, Angelo Hill, Stephen Torres, Eddie Lopez-Lopez, Raymond Brown, Hector Alencio, Angel Negron-Beltran and Edwin Monsanto
“Walter Hill didn’t talk,” one insider told St. John Tradewinds.
Walter Hill and co-conspirator Raymond Brown were the only defendants who did not take pre-trial plea bargain offers from the government to receive lesser sentences, according to published reports. Co-conspirator Brown, 29, was sentenced by Judge Gomez to four years in prison in August 2014 after being found guilty by a jury of using a telephone to facilitate a federal crime.
Angelo Hill cooperated with authorities and was sentenced to 21 months in prison by Judge Gómez in April 2014 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine. Angelo Hill reportedly helped his cousin Walter Hill obtain a captain’s license despite Walter Hill being ineligible because of his prior criminal conviction.
Angelo Hill’s age has been withheld by court and law enforcement officials and omitted from St. Thomas media reports, which continue to identify the former top law enforcement official on St. John as “age unknown.” Sources have told St. John Tradewinds that Angelo Hill attended high school on St. Thomas with trial Judge Gómez who was appointed to the court in 2005 and was Chief Judge from 2006 to 2013. Judge Gómez is scheduled to leave the federal bench in 2015.
Prior to becoming a federal judge, Chief Judge Gómez was a federal prosecutor in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands and the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Chief Judge Gómez also was in the private practice of law with the law firms of Patton Boggs, LLP, in the District of Columbia, and Dudley, Topper & Feuerzeig in the Virgin Islands, according to the website Judgepedia.
Tapia and Hill Retired After Arrests
As part of their investigation of Tapia, who was director of DPNR’s Division of Environmental Enforcement, federal law enforcement officials followed Tapia as he met with Angelo Hill on a Friday evening on St. John and St. John VIPD Commander Hill drove Tapia in his unmarked government vehicle to pick up seven (7) kilograms of cocaine on St. John and drove him back to the ferry dock in Cruz Bay.
Tapia, in his DPNR uniform and armed at the time, was arrested by federal authorities upon his arrival at Red Hook with the cocaine in a backpack.
Tapia and Angelo Hill were allowed to retire from their government positions and preserve their pension rights, Tapia with the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Hill with the V.I. Police Department after their arrests, postdated to the day of Tapia’s arrest after his rendezvous with Angelo Hill on St. John to pick up seven kilos of cocaine.
Alencio, 43, was sentenced by Judge Gomez to 30 months in prison in May 2014 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.
Lopez-Lopez, 36, was sentenced by Judge Gomez to 33 months in prison in June 2014 after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Torres, age unreported, subsequently received the same sentence.
Negron-Beltran, age also unreported, was sentenced to 38 months in prison in July after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
Published reports said it was unclear what the sentence was for Monsanto, 51.
The special U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist, an international federal prosecutor who began the prosecution of the drug conspiracy, left the U.S. Virgin Islands without explanation shortly before the start of the trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Lake prosecuted the case.