New York Woman Pleads Guilty to 37 Gold Burglaries in Northern Virginia
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Melinda Marie Soto, 34, of New York, N.Y., pled guilty today to conspiring to steal at least $500,000 worth of gold and other valuables from 37 residences in Northern Virginia, and to transport that stolen property to New York.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police; and Steve Simpson, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Soto was indicted on July 15, 2010, by a federal grand jury for conspiracy. She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when she is sentenced on Dec. 3, 2010.
According to court records, from January to November 2009, Soto and at least two others – her husband, Dagoberto Ramirez-Soto, age unknown, and Francisco Gray, 40, both from New York – agreed to travel to Northern Virginia to burglarize residences belonging to South Asians, whom they believed kept large amounts of gold in their homes. Soto admitted she was a member of the conspiracy by booking motel rooms for the conspirators to stay in while in Northern Virginia, helping to locate names and residences of potential victims, and monitoring police scanners while her co-conspirators carried out the burglaries.
Soto admitted in court today that, she and her conspirators burglarized 37 residences in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties during 2009, stealing property worth more than $500,000. They then transported that property to New York, where they sold it.
Ramirez-Soto and Gray were also indicted with Soto on July 15, 2010. Ramirez-Soto is scheduled for trial by jury on Oct. 4, 2010, and Gray remains a fugitive at large.
In a pre-trial hearing today before Soto entered her guilty plea, the court denied the defendants’ motion to suppress evidence obtained during the investigation of this case.
This case was investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Michael E. Rich and Special Assistant United States Attorney Paul Rosen are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.