Backdoor Bandits member sentenced to 180 days in jail

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who admitted taking part in the robbery of a La Jolla restaurant as a member of the “Backdoor Bandits” was sentenced Thursday to 180 days in jail and three years of probation.

Thomas Abel Nelson, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in a holdup at Smashburger on Prospect Avenue. Nelson, who will serve his time in a work furlough program, was ordered to report for custody in a week.

Nelson was one of four people arrested in a series of armed robberies at restaurants and other businesses in Clairemont and La Jolla in 2013.

Deputy District Attorney Jalyn Wang said 13 businesses were robbed between May and August 2013, including the El Cotixan on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Rigoberto’s Taco Shop on La Jolla Boulevard near Westbourne Street and Roberto’s Taco Shop on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach.

In all, 27 people were victimized, Wang said.

Ryan Patrick Churchill, Duran Caldwell, Nelson and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in August 2013 during a traffic stop not far from Smashburger.

In the defendants’ car, police found dark clothing, a black Airsoft semiautomatic pistol, a backpack containing cash and a cashbox from Smashburger.

Churchill was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison and Caldwell received eight years behind bars. The 17-year-old boy — now 18 — pleaded guilty in Juvenile Court and was sentenced to probation.

The “Backdoor Bandits” typically got into restaurants through back doors.

Categories: KUSI