Two men convicted of robbing a jewelry dealer in the driveway of a Riverside home in August 2014 were sentenced on Monday to more than two decades in prison.
At a hearing at the Maybrook courthouse, Judge Gregory Ginex sentenced 22-year-old Juan Ramos, of Cicero, to 29 years in state prison and 20-year-old Saul Sandoval, of Chicago, to 23 years. The two men filed immediate appeals.
Both men were convicted in March of following Hillside jewelry dealer Francisco Vivas from the Swap-O-Rama at 47th Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago to the home of his longtime friend Kathleen “Kay” Snyder on East Burlington Street in Riverside.
Police said Ramos and Sandoval specifically had targeted Vivas, who operates a regular booth at the Swap-O-Rama. On Aug. 3, 2014, the two trailed the 70-year-old Vivas to Riverside and then jumped him and robbed him at gunpoint of more than $30,000 worth of jewelry in Snyder’s driveway.
When Snyder heard the commotion and went outside confronted the two, Sandoval pointed a handgun at her head and told her to “stay out of this.” The two men ran to a nearby van and fled the scene.
But both were arrested just three days later after Riverside police worked 72 straight hours on the case, said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel. Key pieces of evidence were surveillance camera videos from both the Swap-O-Rama, which showed the van following Vivas out of the swap meet, and the Berwyn Fruit Market, where Vivas stopped before continuing on to Snyder’s home.
Prosecutors, however, would not have been able to obtain such speedy convictions, said Weitzel, if not for the cooperation of both Vivas and Snyder. Both were presented with Citizen Awards by Weitzel at the June 4 meeting of the Riverside Village Board.
“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told me this prosecution would not have been possible without their direct testimony,” Weitzel said. “They stood up in front of these hardcore gang members and testified in front of them, which really sealed their convictions.”
Weitzel said that many times victims are intimidated into not testifying. Fellow gang members and family members often pack courtrooms to support those suspected of crimes.
“It can be intimidating,” said Weitzel. “Well, they didn’t intimidate Kay.”
Snyder thanked police for their support and quick work, but said it was important to cooperate with prosecutors.
“I am eternally grateful for all of the help the police gave us, and it’s a lesson in humility actually,” Snyder said. “But you’ve got to stand up.”
Weitzel on June 4 also presented awards to police who responded to and worked on the case, including Detective Sgt. Frank Lara, Sgt. Leo Kotor and officers James Lazansky, Brian Greenenwald, Fabian Navarro, Eric Katzin and Josh Teune.
Although both Ramos and Sandoval posted bond following their arrests last summer, they were back in custody prior to trial. Shortly after being released on bond in August 2014, Ramos was detailed by federal immigration agents.
Once he completes his sentence in state prison, Ramos will be deported.
Meanwhile, Sandoval was arrested again in November 2014 and charged with the robbery of a woman on the Southwest Side of Chicago. That charge against him is still pending.