News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WEDNESDAY - August 18, 2010

ROBBERS RECEIVE FEDERAL PRISON SENTENCE FOR ROBBERIES

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today United States District Judge James C. Dever III, sentenced two robbers of Wallace and Burgaw convenience stores. HUMBERTO DIAZ, an illegal alien from Honduras residing in Wallace, North Carolina, received 90 months’ imprisonment. JOSE LEONEL MATUTE, 28, an illegal alien residing in Harrels, North Carolina, received 72 months’ imprisonment. Restitution was imposed for both defendants.

On January 25, 2010, DIAZ pled guilty to counts one and four of the Criminal Indictment returned on August 6, 2009, which includes conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). MATUTE pled guilty to conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery, aiding and abetting Hobbs Act robbery, and illegal entry by an alien. Additionally, MATUTE pled guilty to count three of the Superseding Indictment returned on February 4, 2010, aiding and abetting use of a firearm during a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A).

On November 15, 2008, DIAZ and co-defendant Ever Jose Contreras entered the Your Convenience Store #3 in Wallace, North Carolina. Approaching the counter, DIAZ pulled a knife, demanding all the money from the register. Contreras took $320 from the register drawer. Both men then fled.

On November 23, 2008, DIAZ and MATUTE, along with co-defendants Contreras and Daniel Eduardo Pineda-Zelaya, entered the Your Convenience Store #755 in Burgaw, North Carolina. While the fourth co-defendant, Jose Martinez-Alvarado, waited in the car performing look-out, DIAZ and Contreras went to the back of the store where they encountered a patron of the store. DIAZ removing a .22 caliber revolver from his pocket pointed it at the customer demanding his wallet. Contreras also held a knife on the customer. DIAZ fired one round from the gun in the direction of the customer’s head. While this was occurring in the rear of the store, Pineda-Zelaya and MATUTE were at the front of the store demanding the clerk remove all the money from the register. After taking $50 from the register, the defendants fled the store, hopping into the car and speeding away.

Last week, Pineda-Zelaya was found guilty by a jury and is awaiting sentencing. Martinez-Alvarado is scheduled to be sentenced in September, 2010, and Contreras is scheduled to be sentenced in October, 2010.

This case was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods(PSN) which encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Wilmington Office, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office and the Wallace Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes represented the government.

 

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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