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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Three District Men Found Guilty Of Federal Charges For Taking Part In Robbery ConspiracyArrests Followed Undercover Investigation

     WASHINGTON – Pablo Lovo, 26, Joel Sorto, 24, and Yonas Eshetu, 28, all of Washington, D.C., have been found guilty of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Charles E. SmithSpecial Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

     In addition, Lovo and Sorto were found guilty of a related firearms offense. The jury verdicts were returned May 28, 2014, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer scheduled sentencing for Sept. 12, 2014. All three defendants face up to 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. The Court ordered that the three men be held without bond pending their sentencing.

     According to the government’s evidence, from mid-August to early September of 2013, members of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Washington Field Division, conducted an undercover investigation of the defendants, who conspired to rob a fictitious narcotics dealer/business owner.  Lovo was the initial primary target of the investigation.

     During that time, five meetings took place in the District of Columbia in which some and/or all of the defendants met with an undercover officer who purported to be working with them on the robbery plans. An undercover agent attended one meeting. 

     On Sept. 5, 2013, the day of the planned robbery, the three defendants and two other co-conspirators arrived at a target location in one automobile and further discussed the details of the armed robbery and the roles of each co-conspirator.  Prior to executing the robbery, the defendants were arrested by the undercover officers.  A search of the automobile that the defendants had arrived in yielded three 9 mm firearms, three gun magazines, which contained a total of 44 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, and two machetes that were to be used in the robbery.

     The two other co-conspirators, Raul A. Cruz, Jr., 28, and Ariel Flores, 22, both of Washington, D.C., previously pled guilty to conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery. They are awaiting sentencing.

     In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen, Chief Lanier, and Special Agent in Charge Smith commended the actions of the Metropolitan Police Department officers and ATF Special Agents who worked on the investigation and prosecution of this case.  They also commended the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Candace Battle, Catherine O’Neal, and Kim Hall; Legal Assistants Tammy Scott, Priscilla Hutson, and LaToya Wade; Information Technology Specialists Kimberly Smith, Thomas Royal, Anisha Bhatia, and William Henderson; Victim/Witness Specialists M. Laverne Forrest and Debra Cannon; Victim/Witness Supervisor Michael Hailey, and Criminal Investigator Duncan Templeton.

     Finally, they praised the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory V. Cole and Karla-Dee Clark, who investigated and prosecuted the case.


Updated February 19, 2015