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Maryland man sentenced to over 11 years in prison for armed robbery

BALTIMORE - William Ortiz Lazaro, 31, of Hyattsville, Md., was sentenced to 135 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for the armed robbery of two stores. The sentence is a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of ICE HSI in Baltimore; Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Queen Anne's County Sheriff R. Gery Hofmann III. The sentenced was handed down by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr.

"This investigation is an excellent example of federal and local law enforcement working together to ensure that criminals like Mr. Ortiz are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Special Agent in Charge Winter. "ICE HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners throughout Maryland to combat crime and protect public safety."

"This conclusion of the case is a great example of the growing partnerships and cooperation between allied agencies, and the determination of all law enforcement to send a message through successful prosecution that there is no tolerance for crime in our community," added Sheriff Hofmann.

According to Ortiz Lazaro's plea agreement, he participated in two armed commercial robberies. On July 26, 2008, Ortiz and other accomplices committed an armed, take-over robbery of the High's Store located at 158 Old Mill Bottom Road, Annapolis, Md., and on August 7, 2008, he participated in the robbery of the Tienda Ramirez grocery store in Templeville, Md. Victim employees and customers at the Tienda Ramirez store reported that on that day, a group of men entered the store, some armed with handguns and a shotgun. The armed men forced employees of the store to provide them with money and to give them access to the cash register. The gunmen also pointed a gun at two other victims, forced those victims to get to the floor and ordered one victim not to look around or he would be shot. The men stole more than $500 as well as personal items (including a cellular phone) from the victims, and then fled the store. Witnesses observed the robbers fleeing the area in a white vehicle.

Ortiz Lazaro admitted that he possessed a firearm during the robbery of the grocery store, but did not take the gun out or display it to others, although he saw some of the other robbers brandish guns.

Members of the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office responded to emergency calls and located the car as it was leaving the area. Ortiz Lazaro and three other men were sitting inside the vehicle. Officers searched the vehicle and recovered a loaded shotgun, two loaded handguns, cash, and cellular telephones that were identified as belonging to two victims from the Tienda Ramirez store.

Co-defendants Rogelio Claros Alfaro, age 36; Julio Nelson Paredes, age 45; and Manuel Claros, age 24, all of Silver Spring, Md., previously pleaded guilty to related charges. Judge Quarles sentenced Paredes to 20 years in prison and Alfaro to 147 months in prison. Claros is awaiting sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Rosenstein thanked ICE HSI , the Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County Police Departments, and the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office for their work in this investigation. Mr. Rosenstein also thanked Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy, Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee and Queen Anne's County State's Attorney Lance G. Richardson and their offices for their assistance.

Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Hanlon and Cheryl L. Crumpton, who prosecuted the case.