21 June – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A man who committed at least two jewelry robberies, one of which led to the shooting of two jewelers, was sentenced this morning to 492 months in federal prison for the heists that netted just over $800,000.
Jorge Zamora-Suarez, 35, of Canoga Park, was sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. At today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Feess noted that Zamora-Suarez was long involved in criminal behavior, and that a just punishment must be severe.
At trial, on March 16, 2005, a federal jury convicted Zamora-Suarez of committing two robberies of jewelry salespeople, and using a firearm during those robberies.
In the first robbery, on July 21, 1999, jewelry vendors Mian Azhar Ahsan and Shah Azhar exited a Ramada Inn in Santa Ana with baggage containing jewelry. As the Azhars approached their vehicle in the parking lot, three Hispanic males, including Zamora-Suarez, confronted them and demanded their baggage. The robbers also took Mian Ahsan’s briefcase, which was later recovered from a dumpster only blocks from where Los Angeles Police officers stopped Zamora-Suarez for a traffic violation that evening. During the robbery, the Azhars both observed a small chrome-colored pistol being brandished during the robbery. The value of the stolen jewelry was between $60,000 to $80,000.
In the second incident, on June 22, 2001, Bao Huynh and Phuong Pham exited the F.M.S. Corporation, a jewelry manufacturing business in El Monte. Huynh and Pham walked to their vehicle carrying bags of jewelry that Huynh intended to show to potential buyers. As Huynh and Pham arrived at their vehicle in the parking lot, two Hispanic males, including Zamora-Suarez, confronted them and demanded the bags containing jewelry. During an ensuing struggle, Zamora-Suarez shot Huyhn in the left forearm with a small chrome-colored handgun. Pham, who had originally fled the area when the struggle began, returned to help Huynh, and Zamora-Suarez shot Pham in the left forearm with the small chrome-colored handgun. A co-conspirator of Zamora-Suarez also stabbed Huynh during the robbery. Zamora-Suarez and the other robbers fled with the stolen jewelry, which was worth approximately $500,000.
Zamora-Suarez was also tried for a July 26, 2001, robbery of two jewelry vendors at the Jewelry Sales and Designs store in West Covina, but the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on the charges related to that incident.
On March 16, 2005, the jury convicted Zamora-Suarez of one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robberies, two counts of interference with commerce by threats or violence, and two counts of the use of a firearm during a crime of violence. The first count of using a firearm during a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and the second count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, which must run consecutively to the first seven years.
On March 9, 2004, Zamora-Suarez was convicted in the Northern District of California for committing robberies of jewelry salesmen in Santa Maria and Millbrae, California. Zamora-Suarez was sentenced to 70 months in prison in relation to those offenses.
Other members of the conspiracy have also been convicted in both state and federal court in relation to the series of robberies.
The case against Zamora-Suarez is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Fred W. Slaughter