Thursday, 01 December 2022

New Yorker sentenced to state prison for grand theft, robbery cases

John Louis Cea, 24, of Long Island, New York, was sentenced to state prison on Thursday, September 9, 2021, for grand theft and robbery cases committed in Mendocino County, California. Photo courtesy of the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.


NORTH COAST, Calif. — A New York man twice prosecuted and convicted of victimizing North Coast residents was sentenced Thursday to state prison.

John Louis Cea, 24, of Long Island earlier was convicted by plea on July 1 of felony grand theft of an amount of money over $950, as well as convicted of a separate crime of robbery in the second degree, also a felony, the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office reported.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder on Thursday sentenced Cea to 68 months in state prison, the maximum sentence allowed under California law for the two convictions when sentenced together.

Robbery is defined under California law as a violent felony so any work or other credits the defendant may earn toward early prison release will be limited to no more than 15% of the sentence.

Cea came to Ukiah in October 2020 and stole $32,000 from an elderly business owner who was fixing a private ATM he had set up in a local cannabis business, officials said.

Cea watched as the 85-year-old man went back and forth between his Prius and the cannabis store. When the man was not looking, authorities said Cea opened the hatchback and stole a spare money machine cartridge loaded with $32,000 in cash.

About six weeks later Cea and another New York man returned to Mendocino County, this time with the intent to steal marijuana. Cea met a young couple and convinced them to meet him and his partner at the Burger King parking lot in Willits with two pounds of marijuana. When the couple arrived at Burger King, Cea and the other man forcibly took the marijuana from the couple their marijuana without paying for it, the District Attorney’s Office reported.

The two men jumped into a rental car and recklessly fled north on Highway 101 while pursued by law enforcement. The vehicle eventually crashed into a building in Laytonville. Cea’s partner was arrested near the crash scene, but Cea was able to elude capture and escape back to New York. He was tracked down, arrested, and extradited to California, authorities said.

District Attorney David Eyster prosecuted the case, with the assistance of the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Willits Police Department, New York law enforcement investigators, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.

The District Attorney’s Office offered special thanks to private citizen witnesses who called for law enforcement help and provided valuable information.

Those witnesses included a retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy and the Lake County District Attorney’s Office’s chief investigator.

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