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Bronx Man Pled Guilty to Bear Spray Jewelry Store Robbery & Got 70 Months Now 2nd Too

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY MAG COURT EXCLUSIVE, Dec 1 -  In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on November 8, 2022 a detention or bond proceeding was held by Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave on a defendant charged with using bear spray, hammers and a gun to rob a jewelry store in The Bronx of $800,000.

 After legal arguments, he was detained. Inner City Press was there, the only media in the Mag Court.

 The defendant Pablo Armando Valenzuela was brought into court after 5 pm, with a hospital bracelet on. It was explained that he had recently had surgery for thyroid cysts. His girlfriend, his sister and her boyfriend were in the gallery, along with Inner City Press.

  Assistant US Attorney Amanda Weingarten noted that the defendant had been taken the hospital because he picked at a scab, and he still made it to the courthouse before the noon cut-off to be presented, albeit past 5 pm. She said while being arrested in his apartment on Sheridan Avenue in the Bronx, where the robbery she said was planned, the defendant tried to hide behind his mother.

The assigned Federal Defender asked for release on bond, noting the family support and that no gun had been recovered.

According to the complaint, "On August 10, 2022, VALENZUELA long with at least five other co-conspirators, committed an armed robbery of a jewelry store in the Bronx, New York, using a firearm, bear spray, and hammers.  On the evening of August 10, VALENZUELA entered the jewelry store wearing a ski mask and sprayed a can of bear spray into the eyes of jewelry store employees, temporarily blinding them.  Five other masked robbers entered the jewelry store, and used hammers to destroy glass display cases.  At least one robber brandished a firearm.  VALENZUELA and the other robbers then stole over $800,000 worth of jewelry before fleeing on mopeds, in cars, and by foot."

 Judge Cave ordered Valenzuela detained as a risk to the community, and set the preliminary hearing for 14 days out, if he is not indicted by the grand jury before then. When asked, she allowed him a kiss with his girlfriend, who wept as he was led back into the holding cell.

Jump cut to June 30, 2023 when in the Magistrates Court which Inner City Press alone covers, again before Judge Cave, Valenzuela and his co-defendant Aaron Miller both pled guilty, but only to Count 2, Hobbs Act robbery, not the gun charge.

Jump cut again to September 15, 2023, when Valenzuela was up for sentencing. Inner City Press was there, thread:

As Assistant US Attorney Amanda Weingarten describes aggressive use of bear spray, Valenzuela in a tan prison uniform emblazoned "Justice Center," leans over to whisper to his Federal Defender.

 Valenzuela: Male FBI agents touched my mother in her bathrobe. They thew flash bang grenades. I would have surrendered. The prosecutor is trying to make me look like a demon.

US wants 87 months; he wants 36. Judge: I sentence you to 70 months.

On November 17, co-defendant Aaron Miller asked for 42 months. On November 20, the US replied that 70 months is appropriate.

On December 1, Inner City Press went to the sentencing. Miller apologized to the people in the store, and his family in the gallery. Judge Marrero said through Miller used the hammer to take the jewelry, he was as guilty as Valenzuela - and he sentenced Miller to 70 months.

The case is US v. Valenzuela, et al., 22-cr-633 (Marrero)



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