4 yrs. for Northern Va. gold burglar
The leader of a sophisticated ring of New York City burglars, who traveled to Northern Virginia and specifically targeted the homes of Indian and South Asian residents because they kept pure gold valuables as heirlooms, was sentenced Friday to 46 months in federal prison.
Dagoberto Soto Ramirez, 28, and his wife, Melinda M. Soto, 34, of Queens, admitted that they traveled to Fairfax and Loudoun counties from January to November of 2009, using online White Page listings to search for South Asian-sounding names.
Melinda Soto acknowledged she would knock on doors during the day to see if anyone was home, and if not, she would sit in their rented car and monitor a police scanner while her husband and another man, Francisco Gray, 40, broke in and searched for gold and other valuables. About $600,000 worth of gold and other items were taken in 37 burglaries, authorities said.
The trio were arrested in the Clifton area in November 2009, but released after judges in Fairfax and Loudoun found no evidence in their car or hotel room tying them to any one burglary. Gray was then deported to Peru, and has not been located since.
Federal prosecutors picked up the case and last summer charged the trio with conspiracy to transport stolen goods across state line. The Sotos pleaded guilty, and Melinda Soto was sentenced last month to three years in prison.
Dagoberto Soto is a career criminal dating to age nine, prosecutors said in a brief. He faced a recommended sentencing range of 37 to 46 months, and U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema gave him the maximum.
Elanchevian Sivatnanam of Chantilly was one of the ring's victims, and he was disappointed with the sentence. He said the burglars disabled his home's electronic security system in May 2009 and made off with $92,000 worth of 24-karat gold handed down through his family, as well as passports and green cards.
"I was very upset" by the sentence," Sivatnanam said. "I thought it should be more severe."
The Sotos agreed to make restitution of $590,860, but in $200 monthly chunks to the 37 victim families. None of the stolen items was ever recovered.
| January 28, 2011; 4:10 PM ET
Categories: Burglary, Fairfax, From the Courthouse, Loudoun, Tom Jackman, Updates
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