A New York man was sentenced in California this week for felony grand theft and robbery.
On Thursday, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder handed down a 68-month prison sentence to 24-year-old John Louis Cea of Long Island.
The sentence is the maximum allowed by California law.
According to a press release from the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, Cea was convicted by plea on July 1 for felony grand theft of more than $920 and a separate crime of (felony) robbery in the second degree.
Because robbery is a violent felony under California law, any work or credits, including work credits, earned toward early release will count for no more than 15 percent of Cea’s sentence.
In October 2020, Cea arrived in Ukiah, California, and stole tens of thousands of dollars from an 85-year-old man.
Cea observed the man at a local dispensary as he went back and forth from his Prius and the store where he was repairing a private ATM he had installed there.
When the man was not looking, Cea opened the hatchback of the Prius and stole a spare ATM cartridge filled with $32,000 in cash.
Approximately six weeks later, Cea returned to Mendocino County, accompanied by another man, intending to steal cannabis.
Cea convinced a young couple he had met to meet him in the parking lot of a Burger King in Willits with two pounds of cannabis for purchase.
After the couple arrived at the parking lot, Cea and his partner forcibly took the cannabis from the couple and fled.
According to the press release, the two men fled north on Highway 101 in a rental car, driving recklessly as law enforcement pursued.
The vehicle’s driver ended up crashing into a building in Laytonville, where law enforcement arrested Cea’s partner.
Cea managed to elude capture and fled to New York, but authorities tracked him down, arrested him, and transported him back to California.
Witnesses in the case included a retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy and the Lake County District Attorney’s Chief Investigator.
District Attorney David Eyster prosecuted the case, assisted by the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Willits Police Department, the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations, and New York law enforcement investigators.