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Man sentenced to prison for jewelry thefts

Federal authorities tied a 33-year-old man to what they suspect was an elaborate, organized crime ring based in Richmond, Virginia, that stole millions of dollars in jewelry. The thefts took place not only throughout Virginia, but also in at least six other states, according to authorities.

The 33-year-old man, who is originally from Colombia, pleaded guilty to the charges that came with this participation in the alleged criminal activity. His charge was for conspiring to commit robberies affecting interstate commerce.

The United States attorney's office recently announced that the man was subsequently sentenced to seven years and three months behind bars in prison.

All together, eight individuals picked up charges and were also tied to the group. A press release from the United States attorney's office claimed that the theft ring was responsible for stealing more than $4.6 million worth of jewelry spanning from Virginia into a number of other states. Authorities claimed that members of the group would stake out at jewelry stores and monitor customers that left with jewelry. They would follow those customers and steal the jewelry from them.

One case in particular occurred in Prince William County, Virginia. An out-of-town man said that two men closed in on him at his hotel. The man said he got in his car to leave when the men drove behind him, blocking him in. One of them brandished a gun while the other broke through the man's passenger's side window and grabbed a briefcase that had $53,000 worth of jewelry in it.

With large criminal rings, it is tough to decipher the extent of one individual's involvement. However, the man likely believed federal authorities had enough evidence on him to win in a jury trial, because he opted to enter a guilty plea. The man might have received a more lenient sentence in exchange -- seven years might not be a whole lot relative to the maximum punishment for his crimes.

Source: InsideNova.com, "Man sentenced to prison for role in jewelry theft ring," March 20, 2013

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