Two men charged with robbing a 70-year-old jewelry dealer and threatening a 76-year-old woman at gunpoint in broad daylight in the driveway of a Riverside home last summer were convicted last week of armed robbery and face long stretches in prison when they are sentenced in May.
Following a five-day trial at the Maybrook courthouse, a jury deliberated for four hours before convicting Juan Ramos, 21, of Cicero, and Saul Sandoval, 20, of Chicago, for the Aug. 3, 2014 robbery.
“I am pleased that my officers could help permanently take violent criminals like Saul Sandoval and Juan Ramos off the streets of suburban Cook County,” said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
“I, too, have high praise for the victims in this case, both senior citizens, who not only immediately reported the crime after it took place, but identified the offenders in lineups and attended every single court date, including testimony on [March 20] which led to their convictions,” he added.
Sandoval and Ramos targeted the male victim who had a permanent jewelry booth at the Swap-O-Rama flea market at 47th Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago. On Aug. 3, 2014, the two men followed the jewelry dealer from Chicago to a friend’s residence in the 100 block of East Burlington Street.
As the man exited his vehicle, Ramos and Sandoval jumped the victim, snatching a gold chain from his neck and grabbing three bags containing more than $30,000 in jewelry. As the robbery was taking place, the homeowner, Kay Snyder, ran outside after hearing the commotion and shouted at Ramos and Sandoval to stop.
Standing just a few feet from Snyder, Sandoval pointed a handgun at her head and told her to “stay out of this.” Snyder’s appearance ended the robbery and the two men fled to a van parked a block away.
During the next three days, Riverside police obtained video surveillance footage from the flea market and from businesses along the path the victim took to Riverside and they also tracked Ramos and Sandoval’s cellphones through cell towers along the way.
Police arrested both men on Aug. 6. While both posted bond in connection to the Riverside case, they weren’t free for long. Shortly after being released from Cook County Jail, Ramos was detained by federal immigration agents for a detainer violation.
Meanwhile, Sandoval was arrested in November by Chicago police after he robbed a woman of her purse in the 3100 block of West 39th Place.
Both men are self-admitted street gang members, said Weitzel, and both have extensive criminal histories, including robbery, assault and obstruction of justice.
At the time of his conviction, said Weitzel, Sandoval was wanted on a pair of warrants for traffic offenses in Cicero and Montgomery County.
According to Weitzel, the jury on March 20 convicted the men of armed robbery with a handgun, a Class X felony that carries a minimum sentence of 21 years in prison. Judge Gregory Ginex will sentence the two on May 12.