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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Carlsbad Man Pleads Guilty to Hobbs Act Robbery

ALBUQUERQUE – Phillip Jacob Castaneda, 28, of Carlsbad, N.M., entered a guilty plea this morning in federal court in Las Cruces to violating the Hobbs Act by robbing a business engaged in interstate commerce, announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough, 5th Judicial District Attorney Janetta B. Hicks, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and Carlsbad Police Chief Kent Waller.

Castaneda was arrested on federal charges on Aug. 30, 2013, on a criminal complaint alleging that he and a juvenile accomplice robbed the Check ‘n Go store located at 2521 S. Canal Street in Carlsbad at gunpoint on June 5, 2013.  According to the complaint, Castaneda, who was armed with a firearm, went behind the teller counter in the store and removed money from the tellers’ drawers while the juvenile remained near the front of the store and acted as a lookout.  Castaneda and the juvenile were arrested on state charges by officers of the Carlsbad Police Department after witnesses positively identified Castaneda and the juvenile as the robbers.

Today, Castaneda entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with violating the Hobbs Act by robbing a business engaged in interstate commerce.  In his plea agreement, Castaneda admitted robbing the Check ‘n Go in Carlsbad at gunpoint on June 5, 2013.  He also admitted threatening the store’s employees with a firearm. 

Castaneda has been in federal custody since his arrest in Aug. 2013, and he remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  At sentencing, Castaneda faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Castaneda is required to enter a guilty plea in a related state case pending in the 5th Judicial District Court in Eddy County, N.M., after he is sentenced in this federal case.  The sentences imposed in the two cases will run concurrently under the terms of Castaneda’s plea agreement.  

The federal and state cases against Castaneda were investigated by the Roswell office of the FBI and the Carlsbad Police Department.  The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis A. Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office and the state case is being prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorney Davis R. Ruark.

Updated January 26, 2015