Felon Nathaniel Thomas Jr. has been sentenced to spend more than an additional two years in prison for his successful escape from Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix.
Thomas, 30, was sentenced to an additional 28 months in prison Friday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Wilma Lewis, consecutive to the federal sentence he is currently serving. Thomas was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay a $100 special assessment.
The sentence comes after Thomas pleaded guilty to escape from custody on March 19 in a deal with prosecutors under which he agreed to serve between 24 and 30 months in prison.
But in a subsequent sentencing memorandum, defense attorney Mark Milligan argued Thomas should receive a six-month sentence because of certain mitigating factors, including “likely” paternal neglect, a lack of marketable skills and a history of marijuana use.
“Unfortunately, he was raised in ‘a low-income housing community’ — Walter I.M. Hodge Pavilion, Frederiksted, St. Croix — the worst on the island,” Milligan wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhonda Williams-Henry countered that many Virgin Islanders suffer the same lack of opportunity, education and family support as Thomas — and do not commit federal crimes, much less escape from prison.
“There is nothing unique about this defendant such that he should be rewarded for just walking out of the facility after his conviction for serious crimes,” Williams-Henry wrote.
Thomas was on supervised release for a prior conviction on March 15, 2016, when he was involved in a shootout at a St. Croix gas station. He was ultimately convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment, for which he received a combined 23 year prison sentence on Aug. 23, 2018.
Following his conviction but before his sentencing, Thomas escaped Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility through a cut in the fence with the aid of two other identified people on March 5, 2018, officials have said.
Williams-Henry said in the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum that Thomas “walked out of the facility and escaped,” a mere two days after his conviction, and was found in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, on April 7, 2018 and returned to the territory for prosecution.