Police: Surveillance Video Sheds Doubt on Robbery Story

A 23-year-old Hemet man who allegedly staged a robbery at a store he helped manage also is a suspect in a credit card-fraud case, police said Thursday.

Jose Maldonado called police on April 5 to report an armed robbery at the Sail Drug store on Latham Avenue, according to Hemet police Lt. Joe Nevarez.

He said two masked gunmen forced him into the store as he was opening the business and ordered him to unlock the safe, Nevarez said.

Maldonado also told investigators that the gunmen took an undisclosed amount of cash and checks, then assaulted him and ran off, the lieutenant said.

A review of the surveillance video shed doubt on Maldonado's account, according to the lieutenant.

Detectives determined that the two "gunmen" were actually friends of the suspect, who conspired to stage the robbery, and a fourth person was the getaway driver, Nevarez alleged.

Police subsequently arrested Hemet residents Joseph Estrada and Edward Reynoso, both 19, but the 17-year-old suspected getaway driver is still at large, the lieutenant said.

A search of Maldonado's home allegedly yielded evidence linking him to the robbery and credit card fraud.

Maldonado pleaded not guilty to a pair of grand theft counts, and one count each of embezzlement, intent to defraud and possession of marijuana for sale.

He also faces allegations of taking, damaging or destroying property.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dennis McConaghy set the defendant's bail at $78,000 and ordered him back to court today for a felony settlement conference.

Estrada, who was arrested Wednesday, was booked on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to commit a felony, grand theft and embezzlement. He remains jailed in lieu of $80,000 bail, pending arraignment Friday.

Reynoso was also arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of disobeying a court order, with bail set at $80,500, according to jail records. He was also expected to be arraigned on Friday.

Copyright Archive Sources
Contact Us