DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Distrtict of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 14, 2017
James D. Tierney
, United States Attorney
Contact: Alyssa Freda

Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty to Brandishing Short-Barreled Shotgun During Armed Robbery of Convenience Store

Defendant, Prosecuted Under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative, Pleads Guilty Under Plea Agreement Recommending 12-Year Prison Sentence

ALBUQUERQUE – William L. Thrash, 51, of Albuquerque, N.M., pled guilty in federal court yesterday to violating the federal firearms laws by brandishing a short-barreled shotgun during the armed robbery of an Albuquerque-area convenience store in March 2017. The guilty plea was entered under a plea agreement that recommends that Thrash be sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Thrash in Sept. 2017, on a criminal complaint. The criminal complaint charged Thrash with him with violating the Hobbs Act by robbing two businesses engaged in interstate commerce at gunpoint, brandishing a firearm during crimes of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the criminal complaint, Thrash committed one of the Hobbs Act robberies on March 14, 2017 by robbing an Albuquerque-area convenience store on March 14, 2017, and the second robbery on April 15, 2017, by robbing a medical marijuana dispensary located in Bernalillo County, N.M. According to the criminal complaint, Thrash during each of the two robberies.

On April 19, 2017, officers of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) arrested Thrash on state charges, which have since been dismissed in favor of federal prosecution, while executing a state search warrant at a hotel room in which Thrash was residing. During the search, the officers seized a firearm and ammunition. At the time, Thrash was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted on numerous felony offenses, including being a felon in possession of a firearm, auto burglary, escape, child abuse or abandonment, battery on a peace officer, and possession of a deadly weapon or an explosive by a prisoner.

During yesterday’s change of plea hearing, Thrash pled guilty to a felony information charging him with using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. In entering the guilty plea, Thrash admitted brandishing a short-barreled shotgun at store employees when he robbed an Albuquerque-area convenience store on March 14, 2017.

Thrash has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and APD, with assistance from the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney George C. Kraehe is prosecuting the case under a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their prior criminal convictions for federal prosecution with the goal of removing repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.

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