Judge Retains $250,000 Bail Against Accused in Rite Aid Robbery Case

By Jariah Moore

VENTURA, CA – Ventura County Superior Court Judge Gilbert Romero denied a motion to reduce a man’s charges from a felony to a misdemeanor last week, and retained a bail amount of $250,000 in a Rite Aid and CVS robbery case.

The incident took place on March 4, 2021. The accused allegedly acted as a driver for the co-accused. He was charged with grand theft with an enhancement for having a prior strike conviction.

According to Judge Romero, the co-accused was “‘broke and wanted to take her daughter to Disneyland,” leaving a Rite Aid location with $3,800 worth of property in her purse, which was later placed into trash bags in the car.

The accused and co-accused then visited two CVS locations, where another set of items were stolen. However, according to Defense Attorney Joaquin Nava, “One of the deputies did testify that they were unable to confirm that the other property was stolen.”

About $1,700 worth of items from one CVS location and $1,900 from another were found in the vehicle.

The accused had his bail set at $250,000, but his attorney maintained the accused was unable to afford this amount, and requested to have it reduced.

The defense additionally requested to have the grand theft charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The deputy district attorney argued the motion to reduce the charges was inappropriate given the accused’s criminal history, which included a number of prior thefts.

His prior convictions included a strike offense in 2019, and he had been imprisoned for four years previously, according to the DDA, who also pointed out the accused has a pending case in Santa Ana.

Additionally, the DDA noted the accused’s conduct during the incident, charging, “When questioned by officers, he says he didn’t know where he was coming from or where he was,” yet he was able to arrive at a given location “within 10 minutes.”

The accused claimed he was unaware that a robbery was taking place. According to the judge, the accused said he had no knowledge of the fact that the co-accused was stealing from the stores they visited.

The judge also noted, however, that there was “some planning” that must have taken place, as the stolen items had been moved from the co-accused’s purse into trash bags in the car.

Judge Romero said, “I think it’s hard to believe that the accused is just sitting there and doesn’t know what’s going on. That doesn’t really make any sense to me.”

The judge ultimately denied the 17b motion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor from felony, ruling, “The accused has a significant criminal history of theft. The amount stolen is significant, some planning based on the transfer from the black purse to the trash bags, the number of stores that were visited on this occasion. So I don’t believe this is misdemeanor conduct, this is felony conduct.”

The judge also speculated on the reason for the accused’s bail being set at $250,000, explaining, “I will note, I’m looking, I see four failures to appear, so perhaps that may have something to do with the reason why his bail is set at $250,000. I don’t know, but he did have a bail review.”

Judge Romero set an information arraignment for March 16.

About The Author

Jariah Moore is a third-year student at UCLA. She obtained an AA in English prior to transferring, and will earn a BA in English in 2024. Upon graduation, she plans to attend law school and become an attorney. She hopes to advocate for minority groups throughout her practice.

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