Gold Thief Targeting Washington's South Asians Convicted

By Arun Kumar

Washington, April 22 (IANS) To the relief of South Asian residents of Washington area, one of the alleged picky burglars targeting their homes for gold jewellery has been finally convicted in connection with a break-in last year.

A New York man, Dagoberto Soto-Ramirez, 26, was convicted Wednesday of attempting to burglarise a home on June 25, 2009 in Fairfax, a Washington suburb in Virginia, and with possessing a burglarious tool. He was sentenced to one year in prison for the attempted burglary charge and was ordered by Judge Jan L. Brodie to pay a $1,500 fine for possession of a burglarious tool.

Soto-Ramirez was also a suspect in over 30 burglaries in area homes from February through November 2009, but this was the first conviction in the chain of burglaries for stealing gold jewellery, cash, documents and other gold items from primarily Indian and Middle-Eastern families last year.

"I have had faith in the justice system from the very beginning of this case," said Raman Kumar, one of the early Indian-American burglary victims, "but not anymore (after this judegement)."

On Jan. 20, 2010, several Fairfax County burglary victims were outraged after Fairfax County District Court judge Ian O'Flaherty dismissed the majority of charges against Soto-Ramirez and two other New Yorkers.

O'Flaherty said in his opinion much of the evidence brought forth by prosecutors that day did not satisfy legal requirements to be considered for trial.

Before a hearing Feb 24, prosecutor Kathy Stott dropped the remaining charges against the other defendants, Francisco Gray, 39, and Melinda M. Soto, 33. Soto-Ramirez remained tied to the charges of the June 25 robbery due to witness testimony.

Soto-Ramirez went to trial on April 5, but the case ended with a mistrial that afternoon when a jury could not come to a consensus. He went back to trial Tuesday, where a new jury again heard the case.

After the six-hour trial Tuesday, the new 12-person jury, consisting of seven men and five women, deliberated for about two hours but did not reach a verdict until early Wednesday afternoon after reconvening. Soto-Ramirez was found guilty of both charges.



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Title: Gold Thief Targeting Washington's South Asians Convicted

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