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Press Release

O.C. Man Who Committed 23 Armed Robberies of Gasoline Stations and Convenience Stores Sentenced to Over 8 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

          SANTA ANA, California – A Buena Park man was sentenced today to 100 months in federal prison for committing a series of armed robberies of gasoline stations and convenience stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties where he used a replica firearm to threaten and intimidate store clerks.

          Gerardo Sotelo, 28, was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who also ordered him to pay $625 in restitution. Sotelo pleaded guilty in February 2019 to four counts of interference with commerce by robbery, and one count of attempted interference with commerce by robbery.

          Sotelo’s conviction and sentence arose out of a series of robberies dating back to 2016 that targeted Shell and Chevron gas stations and 7-Eleven convenience stores. During the spree, Sotelo robbed businesses in Brea, Pico Rivera, Norwalk, La Habra, Artesia, Cerritos, Whittier, Cypress, Fullerton, and Fountain Valley.

          Sotelo usually wore a hooded sweatshirt, zipped or cinched up to hide his neck during the robberies. He would select an item from the convenience store before approaching the counter, demanding money from the clerk, and brandishing what appeared to be a real semi-automatic pistol at the gas station clerk. Sotelo typically stole between $150 and $250 per robbery, and sometimes he returned to a store he previously robbed weeks before in order to rob it again.

          On May 1, 2018, Sotelo was arrested moments after he robbed a Chevron gasoline station convenience store in Artesia, which he previously had robbed on April 18, 2018. Law enforcement found Sotelo in possession of the replica firearm used during the robberies and the $151 he had stolen from the Chevron gas station moments before. When authorities interviewed the clerk who was robbed at gunpoint, the victim said he recognized Sotelo as having robbed him previously at gunpoint on April 18, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint against Sotelo.

          This matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Brea Police Department, with substantial assistance from the Fullerton Police Department.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott D. Tenley of the Santa Ana Branch Office.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)
(213) 894-4465

Updated May 17, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-097