Florida man sentenced 17 years for role in $4.8M gold heist

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 8/3/2016

A Florida man who pleaded guilty in April to participating in a brazen heist of $4.8 million in gold and silver has been sentenced to nearly two decades in federal prison.

Chief Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced defendant Roberto Cabrera to 17 years in prison on three counts, including conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of crime and possession of body armor by a convicted felon. Cabrera faced a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Cabrera received a sentence of 235 months, followed by two years of supervised release, as well as 36 months on the body armor possession charges. All three sentences will run concurrently. In addition, court records indicate a restitution hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 13. The court’s recommendations also call for Cabrera to participate in 500 hours of substance abuse treatment.

Federal investigators say Cabrera, co-defendant Adalberto Perez, and an unidentified third man made up a trio of hijackers who robbed a tractor-trailer carrying gold and other precious metals on March 1, 2015, on Interstate 95 in North Carolina.

Perez pleaded guilty on June 29 to one count each of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and one count of conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime. He faces up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A sentencing hearing for Perez has been set for 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 12.

A probable cause affidavit filed in connection with the case alleges that the thieves used GPS to track the truck and released pepper spray into the cab via remote control to sicken the guards and make the rig pull over. More than 275 pounds of gold bars and some silver were stolen.

Perez has pleaded not guilty to robbery and firearms charges.

Law enforcement said the shipment of gold bars aboard a TransValue Inc. truck was hijacked in Wilson County, N.C., on its way from Republic Metals near Miami to a processing facility in Bridgewater, Mass.

The FBI credits a ‘cooperating source’ with providing the break the agency needed to apprehend at least some of those involved in the heist.

The confidential source allegedly identified Perez as the person who planned and organized the gold heist. The informant told federal agents that Perez admitted to the robbery and had a series of conversations with the suspect about the heist, which the source alleges was in the planning stages for more than a year, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

According to the source, Perez sold off most of his share of the gold, and used the proceeds to buy at least two residences, three cars and a boat. The informant also claims that some of the stolen gold was fashioned into jewelry, including a bracelet, a chain, and a medallion of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of armorers, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives. As part of the plea agreement, Perez agreed to forfeit approximately $663,796 in cash, as well as gold jewelry, and guns seized by federal authorities during a raid on his Florida home on March 2.

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