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Suspect Pleads Guilty in $500,000 Robbery of Traveling Salesman

Sentencing is set for Aug. 12.

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PITTSBURGH – A resident of Bogota, Colombia, has admitted in federal court to taking about $500,000 worth of gemstones and jewelry from a traveling salesman.

Oscar Javier Rodriguez Roa, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate federal robbery laws. Roa had been extradited from Colombia to Pittsburgh.

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In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Roa was a member of an organized South American theft ring that targeted traveling jewelry salespersons in the U.S. and elsewhere.

On May 5, 2013, Roa and his accomplices drove from Lawrenceville, GA, to Western Pennsylvania in a rented car to set up the heist, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

On May 8, 2013, in Wexford, PA, Roa and his three accomplices accosted a traveling jewelry salesman from New York City as the salesman exited his car in the parking lot of a jewelry store, according to the release.

Roa smashed the rear driver’s side window of the salesman’s car, reached inside the car, and stole a black shoulder bag containing gemstones and jewelry. The other robbers punctured the rear driver’s side tire of the salesman’s car, kept an eye on the salesman, and drove the Nissan Maxima getaway car.

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Flight records showed that Roa fled the United States on May 16, 2013, by boarding a flight in Houston, TX, destined for Bogota.

“This prosecution should send a message to would-be international criminals, if you commit crimes against Americans, we will find you and you will be brought to answer for your actions in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Scott W. Brady, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones, and Chief Robert T. Amann of the Northern Regional Police Department.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 12. The law provides for a sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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