ELKHORN — Last November, four kids planned to rob an apparent drug dealer by planting an inside man in the woman’s apartment to ensure everything was “cool” before they broke in armed with knives and a metal pipe.
On Dec. 18 the inside man, Angel Ortiz, 17, Lake Geneva, was sentenced to five years in a state prison and eight years of extended supervision by Judge Phillip Koss. Ortiz is an illegal immigrant and will likely be deported after he finishes his prison sentence.
Prosecutor Haley Rea said Ortiz and his co-defendants hashed out a “sophisticated” plan, and the teens targeted the apparent drug dealer because she would be less likely to contact law enforcement after the robbery.
However, defense attorney John Cabranes, said the plan wasn’t sophisticated because the defendants discussed it and joked about it on Facebook.
“How sophisticated is it when you blast to the world your involvement in this?” he asked.
Ortiz, who was 16 at the time of the robbery, bought marijuana from the victims and smoked it with the people inside of the home. While inside, Ortiz messaged another juvenile and told him it was time to rob the apartment.
Three other juveniles, who were 13, 14 and 16, knocked on the apartment door and rushed inside when the woman answered it. The three teens were wearing dark clothes and masks.
Marcos Rosas-Villegas, now 17, was waived into adult court, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and is scheduled for a Jan. 21 sentencing hearing. He faces up to 40 years imprisonment.
After the hearing, Rea said she couldn’t disclose what happened to the other two juveniles. However, during the hearing, Koss said that the two spent time in a juvenile detention center.
Once inside the apartment, Rosas-Villegas and the two juveniles tied up all the people inside of the home, including two young children. The victims in the case said that during the home invasion Ortiz didn’t seem to take it seriously and was laughing.
During the sentencing hearing, Rea played a video recording of an interview that law enforcement conducted with a 4-year-old girl who was at the home during the robbery.
The girl told the interviewer that the “bad guys” came into the home and “tied me up really hard.” Rea said the home invasion was traumatic for the child.
“He planned this crime. He seemed to be proud of it,” she said.
Rea also read Facebook messages that Ortiz sent and received. A girl sent Ortiz a message asking “Did you end up robbing that lady, lol.” In another message, Ortiz wrote that he is always on a “mission.” Rea said the robbery was a joke to Ortiz and his friends.
“These four were at a higher-level than the average young criminal,” Rea said. “This was a well thought out, planned invasion.”
During the hearing, Cabranes said that his client is a “soft-spoken and generally straight-forward individual.”
“I don’t see this kid, and I emphasize the word kid because he is a kid, with someone who would be involved in this,” he said.
Cabranes asked Koss to send his client to jail, not prison, and place him on probation. He said that his client will likely be deported and separated from his family as a result of this crime.
“There is hope that sometime there will be immigration reform, which he is now completely ineligible for. He is done,” Cabranes said. “That is a significant consequence beyond anything that you can do to him.”
Cabranes said his client suffers from alcohol and other drug dependence issues and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, which was caused by living with an abusive father.
Ortiz’s mother and a man, who identified himself as Ortiz’s father for the past six years, asked Koss to show some leniency in his sentence.
“Take into consideration that we don’t want to lose him — we are a family,” the man said.
When given a chance to speak, Ortiz again admitted his involvement in the robbery.
“I started hanging out with the wrong crew, and I guess I still do sometimes,” he said.
When pronouncing his sentence, Koss said that this was an “incredibly serious crime.”
During the hearing, Koss said it is never a good thing to send a young person to prison, but the crime was too serious to sentence him to probation.
“At some point, at some level of common sense, someone has to take responsibility and say this isn’t a good idea,” Koss said. “To the contrary they bragged about it.”