Tulare County Man Pleads Guilty to Gun Charges in Series of Armed Robberies
FRESNO, Calif. — Javier Beltran, 34, of Strathmore, pleaded guilty today to two counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Beltran was a member of a conspiracy to commit a series of armed robberies of gas stations, convenience stores, and liquor stores from May 19, 2016, until July 26, 2017. The indictment alleges that Beltran and his conspirators committed at least seven armed robberies in Tulare and Kern Counties between May 2016 and January 2017. The next month, Beltran and his associates travelled to Nebraska, where they committed two more robberies. They then returned to California, where they committed three more armed robberies.
In his guilty plea, Beltran admitted that he used a firearm to rob two liquor stores. First, Beltran admitted that on January 18, 2017, he and other conspirators robbed Joe’s Westside in Porterville, California. Prior to the robbery, Beltran and other conspirators stole a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer by pushing a hole in the driver’s side lock, cracking the steering shaft, and starting the vehicle without a key. They drove the vehicle to Joe’s Westside in Porterville, California, where they entered the store wearing masks and carrying guns.
Inside the store, Beltran and other co-conspirators ordered the store clerk to the ground at gunpoint, forced the clerk to open the cash register, and stole over $8,000. Beltran and his associates fled in the stolen Chevrolet Trailblazer, which they left approximately half a mile away with the engine still running.
Second, Beltran admitted that on July 22, 2017, he and other co-conspirators robbed Woodville Liquor in Woodville, California. Prior to the robbery, Beltran and his associates stole a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado by cracking the steering shaft and starting the vehicle without a key. They drove the vehicle to Woodville Liquor in Woodville, California. Beltran entered the store along with two other suspects, each carrying a firearm. They ordered the customers in the store to the ground at gunpoint and used zip ties to tie up one of the store employees. They then stole approximately $2,000 in cash, $4,000 in checks, bottles of whiskey, and cartons of cigarettes before fleeing in the stolen vehicle, which they left a short distance from Woodville Liquor.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Porterville Police Department, Lindsay Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department, Fremont (Nebraska) Police Department, and Dodge County (Nebraska) Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Ross Pearson and Kathleen Servatius are prosecuting the case.
Beltran is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. Beltran faces a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of 32 years in prison for the two firearms offenses to which he pleaded guilty, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
An additional defendant, Ulises Medina, is also charged in this case. His next court appearance is set for January 7, 2019. The charges are only allegations; Medina is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.