18 charges added against Barona, Fashion Valley robbery suspects

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Eighteen additional charges were filed this week against
two parolees suspected in a series of “high-risk” armed robberies throughout
California last year, including one at a Fashion Valley jewelry store and
another at the Barona Casino.

Robert Chavira, 40, and Ryan Alan McKnight, 34, were charged in November
with one count each of robbery and arson. Charges of conspiracy, false
imprisonment, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon were added today.

Deputy District Attorney Rick Clabby told Judge David Szumowski last
year that Chavira and McKnight were involved in five “high-risk” armed
robberies in Costa Mesa, Mission Valley, San Jose, Palm Desert and at the
Barona Casino.

On Aug. 2, the armed defendants used sledgehammers to steal hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of watches from a Costa Mesa store, Clabby alleged.

On Sept. 12, they allegedly drove down a walkway at the Fashion Valley
mall and used sledgehammers to break display cases and steal high-end Rolex
watches from the Ben Bridge store.

Chavira and McKnight are accused of using the same tactic to steal Rolex
watches from a high-end jewelry store in San Jose on Oct. 15, Clabby told the
judge.

Nine days later, the defendants — armed and wearing masks — allegedly
stole more than $1 million in Rolex watches from a store in Palm Desert.

Clabby said the defendants changed their method of operation when they
allegedly stole $60,000-$70,000 from a glass case at the Barona Casino on Nov.
2.

The defendants set fire to a house next to the casino to draw
firefighters and authorities away from the business, the prosecutor alleged.
Clabby alleged that Chavira and McKnight tied a chain to the back of a vehicle
and ripped out a glass case containing the cash.

A video shows McKnight buying gas before the fire was set, the
prosecutor said.

When the defendants were arrested a week later, gear used to commit
robberies was found in their hotel room, Clabby said.

A third defendant, 22-year-old Adrian Ramos, was charged in connection
with the robberies at Barona, Fashion Valley and San Jose, according to a
criminal complaint.

A status conference is scheduled tomorrow at the downtown courthouse.

Categories: KUSI