Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison Following Bear Spray Robbery
The suspect used bear spray to subdue employees and bystanders then stole $800,000 worth of jewelry.
Pablo Armando Valenzuela, 33, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to 70 months in prison, nearly six years, by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York.
Valenzuela previously pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery.
On the evening of August 10, 2022, Valenzuela, along with at least five other suspects, robbed a jewelry store on East Fordham Road wearing ski masks.
Valenzuela entered first and sprayed a can of bear spray into the employees’ eyes, temporarily blinding them.
Customers, including children, were present in the store at the time, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The five other masked robbers then entered, using hammers to break into the glass display cases, taking $800,000 in merchandise, according to the New York Police Department.
The men fled in different directions, on foot, in cars, and on the backs of mopeds driven by co-conspirators who acted as lookouts and getaway drivers.
As the men fled, Valenzuela sprayed the bear spray at bystanders, many of whom were taken to the hospital.
“The defendant committed a violent armed robbery of a Bronx jewelry store and injured innocent employees and bystanders by spraying a can of extremely hazardous bear spray directly into their faces,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
“Violent criminals who commit firearms offenses and terrorize hardworking New Yorkers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
In addition to his prison term, Valenzuela was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
His co-defendant, Aaron Miller, pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery and will be sentenced on Dec. 1.
The other suspects have not been apprehended.
The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda C. Weingarten is in charge of the prosecution.
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