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High School Senior Detained for Allegedly Stealing Gold Accessories from Underclassman

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ST. THOMAS — A concerning event unfolded on a St. Thomas high school premises on Monday afternoon. Authorities were alerted to the school around 1:30 p.m. following reports of a theft incident on school grounds.

On arrival, officers connected with school administrators and a sophomore student. The sophomore recounted an unsettling episode that had transpired roughly an hour prior, in which he was reportedly confronted by a senior student, who is 18 years or older. The latter allegedly demanded the sophomore’s gold chain, scouring his pockets and intimidating him with coarse language. Given the senior’s rumored history of aggressive behavior towards peers, the younger student revealed the location of his chain – in the front section of his backpack. Following this, the senior allegedly extracted both the gold chain and a bracelet from the bag.

The sophomore shared with the officers that the chain was a gift from his mother, recognizing his academic progress. The bracelet, he mentioned, was a memento from a relative. For verification purposes, authorities were provided with older pictures of the young boy donning the jewelry.

Following the incident, the senior was questioned by school personnel about the jewelry’s location. He coordinated the return of the items by getting the current holder to bring them back to the school.

Subsequent to the recovery of the items, the senior was taken into custody, facing charges of first-degree assault, third-degree theft, and two allegations of major theft. Pending his advice of rights hearing, he was directed to the Bureau of Corrections.

In a recent court hearing on Wednesday, Magistrate Simone VanHolten-Turnbull deemed sufficient grounds to validate all the charges against the student. The magistrate stipulated a portion of his $25,000 bail, setting it at $500, to be posted for his pre-trial release.

Upon meeting the bail terms, the defendant is bound by certain conditions. He is required to continue his education at his present school or, if expulsion ensues, coordinate with the appropriate departments for alternate educational solutions. He is also mandated to stay within the St. Thomas/St. John region and report to the probation department bi-weekly.

His subsequent court date is marked for September 8.

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Crime

Kansas Man Charged for Not Declaring Firearm During St. Thomas Visit

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ST. THOMAS — A Kansas man is facing charges in the District Court of the Virgin Islands for failing to declare a firearm during his visit to St. Thomas.

Customs and Border Protection officials, conducting routine inspections at the Cyril E. King Airport on Thursday, discovered the undeclared weapon during a secondary search prompted by a canine alert on a bag belonging to Robert Dean Zoch’s travel partner.

The search revealed a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver in Zoch’s checked luggage. The firearm, packed with five rounds of ammunition, was accompanied by an additional 10 rounds in speedloaders.

Zoch, a resident of Kansas, was on his way home on a Spirit Airlines flight with a layover in Orlando, Florida, when he was detained and questioned by Homeland Security Investigations agents. He admitted to knowingly packing the weapon in his bag without securing it, citing haste as the reason for his oversight. Zoch also confessed to not informing the airline about the firearm on either leg of his trip and admitted to lacking a federal license for the firearm.

According to court documents, Zoch claimed he carried the gun for protection due to reports of shootings in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Charged with failure to provide written notice of a firearm to a common carrier, Zoch appeared before U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller. He was ordered to sign an unsecured $15,000 bond for his release pending trial. His travel will be restricted to Shawnee County, Kansas, and St. Thomas. Additionally, his firearms will be held by authorities, and he must report regularly to the U.S. probation office.

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Crime

BVI Pastor and Radio Host Arrested on Allegations of Fraudulent Government Contracts

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Claude Skelton Cline, a well-known pastor and radio personality in the British Virgin Islands, has been arrested and charged with obtaining property by deception, false accounting, and proceeds of crime.

The arrest follows an announcement from former Governor John Rankin last March, revealing that an audit, recommended by the Commission of Inquiry, scrutinized government contracts awarded to Cline between 2008 and 2010. According to Rankin, the audit uncovered “failures in good governance and improper use of public funds.” The findings were forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the police.

BVI police stated that Cline’s arrest on Friday culminated an 18-month criminal investigation initiated by the audit’s findings. The audit revealed that Cline received over $350,000 during this period with negligible results from his consultancy work, leading auditors to conclude that the contracts primarily benefited Cline financially rather than providing value to the government.

“The government failed to receive value for money on these contracts,” the report stated. In response to the public disclosure of the audit findings last year, Cline asserted his innocence, claiming, “I did a phenomenal job for my part in a two-part contractual arrangement.” He further stated, “I feel no compunction to defend myself.”

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Joseph Anthony Ramirez Faces Attempted Murder Charges After Assaulting Officers in St. Croix

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At the Candido Guadalupe Housing Complex in St. Croix, a report of domestic violence on Sunday afternoon quickly turned perilous for responding officers, culminating in attempted murder charges for 37-year-old Joseph Anthony Ramirez.

The sequence of events unfolded when the Virgin Islands Police Department received a call around 2:33 p.m. from the 911 Emergency Call Center regarding a disturbance at apartment 85, building 7. Upon arrival, officers were informed by the victim that Ramirez had vandalized her apartment. As one officer began to investigate, Ramirez unexpectedly attacked, initiating an assault by placing the officer in a chokehold, threatening his ability to breathe.

The attack escalated even after a good Samaritan and the victim intervened, enabling the officer to momentarily escape. Despite being informed of his arrest, Ramirez attacked again, this time inflicting a severe laceration above the officer’s eyelid and resuming the chokehold. The situation required backup, with two additional officers arriving at the scene before Ramirez could be subdued and arrested.

Charged with attempted murder and third-degree assault, Ramirez was subsequently read his Miranda Rights, booked, and transported to the John Bell Correctional Facility. Unable to meet the initial $100,000 bail, Ramirez was held until a court hearing on Tuesday where his bail was reduced to $10,000. He remains in custody, with a bail hearing scheduled for later today, May 15.

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