News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crime and No Punishment for Last Year's (Alleged) Serial Jewelry Burglars

Picture 1.jpgHey, remember that time police arrested three people from New York in connection with an ongoing series of jewelry thefts that largely targeted Indian families in Reston and throughout Fairfax and Loudoun counties? Yeah, that was awesome. Only when it came time for their day in court, things didn't go so well.

AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Loudoun County Judge Julia Cannon dismissed all six charges against Francisco Gray, also known as Cristhian Oliva-Penaranda. Gray, 39, as well as Dagoberto Soto-Ramirez, 27, and his wife Melinda Soto, also known as Marie Soto-Melinda, 33, all of whom were arrested on Nov. 10, also each had 11 charges placed against them in Fairfax County. Judge Ian O’Flaherty dismissed 10 of those charges for each defendant at a preliminary hearing on Jan. 20.

Each of the suspects still has one charge pending in Fairfax County, with the collective preliminary hearing set for Feb. 24, and Soto-Ramirez and his wife are scheduled to appear before a Loudoun County judge on March 4, each facing the same six charges that Gray had dismissed.

"It was quite obvious that the commonwealth didn’t show they had probable cause for the arrest and the prosecution at that point, and the court dismissed it," defense attorney Bobby Stafford said of the hearing in Fairfax County. Stafford is defending Soto Ramirez in both counties.
Wait a minute. Whahappened?
POLICE said the November arrest was based on "burglarious materials" in the vehicle the suspects were driving.

Kumar, who attended the preliminary hearing in Fairfax County, said prosecutors had presented as evidence gold-detecting equipment, cell phones that had called the homes of victims before they were burglarized and a list of names and phone numbers, many of them labeled "indio," among other items found in the suspects’ possession. "But the prosecutors, they were unable to tie up the evidence," he said. He noted that the burglaries, which peaked in October, had ceased after the arrest.
Awkward! Apparently the trio is facing one more charge in Fairfax County (a speeding ticket, maybe?) Plus, four more New York residents have been extradited in connection with the burglaries. So maybe at some point they'll get a conviction. We hear there's a big city with tall buildings and lots of people up there, so someone's probably guilty of something.


  1. As a former defense attorney, I can tell you that if the Government couldn't prove this case, somebody REALLY screwed up...with either the original search, the chain of custody, or even the courtroom stuff. Wow. There is rarely an excuse for the government to lose a case after it gets to court -- it's supposed to have been scrubbed thoroughly before that happens! I'll bet the targeted community will be thrilled with this outcome!

  2. Its funny how quickly people joined the witch hunt, formed neighborhood watches, and glared over each others shoulders with suspicious looks when in fact it turns out the suspects were from another state and even then, could not clearly be identified as the culprits. Goes to show that our justice system is working after all. Job well done judge (o'flaherty or cannon or whatever the name)


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