Fresno, California - Ulises Medina, 25, of Earlimart, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Medina was a member of a conspiracy to commit a series of armed robberies of gas stations, convenience stores, and liquor stores from May 19, 2016, until July 26, 2017. Medina and his conspirators committed at least seven armed robberies in Tulare and Kern Counties between May 2016 and January 2017. The next month, Medina and his associates travelled to Nebraska, where they committed two more robberies. They then returned to California, where they committed three more armed robberies.
In his guilty plea, Medina admitted that he was part of this conspiracy, and that he robbed Joe’s Westside in Porterville, on January 18, 2017. Prior to the robbery, Medina and other conspirators stole a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer by pushing a hole in the driver’s side lock, cracking the steering shaft, and starting the vehicle without a key. They drove the vehicle to Joe’s Westside where they entered the store wearing masks and carrying guns.
Inside the store, Medina and other co-conspirators ordered the store clerk to the ground at gunpoint, forced the clerk to open the cash register, and stole over $8,000. Then they fled in the stolen Chevrolet Trailblazer, which they abandoned approximately half a mile away with the engine still running.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Porterville Police Department, Lindsay Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Fremont (Nebraska) Police Department, and Dodge County (Nebraska) Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross Pearson and Kathleen Servatius are prosecuting the case.
Medina is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on February 25, 2019. Medina faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Co-defendant, Javier Beltran, 34, of Strathmore, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Beltran is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge O’Neill on January 14, 2019.
This case was brought as a part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. PSN was reinvigorated in 2017 as part of the Department of Justice’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.