Federal court hearing for defendant in cell phone robbery spree

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — One off the two men suspected of robbing ten Metro PCS stores went before a federal judge Friday. 

The 30-year-old defendant and another man were arrested earlier this week in Pacific Beach.

 In the courtroom, the judge agreed to postpone the hearing for one of the robbery defendants, but the court went ahead with proceedings for 30-year-old Justin Caldwell.

Caldwell, along with 29-year-old Carlos Soto, is suspected of robbing 10 Metro PCS stores since Jan. 25. He is being charged with interference with commerce.

After several weeks of police surveillance, both men were arrested and taken into custody Tuesday at a Metro PCS store in Pacific Beach.

Right now, Caldwell and Soto are only charged with the robbery in Pacific Beach. According to the federal complaint, Caldwell was waiting in a get-away car as co-defendant Soto robbed the store, walking out with a plastic bag.

Both men were arrested at the scene.

Officers recovered a total of nine cell phones, $57 from the plastic bag and $98 on Soto. A BB gun was also found near the area where Soto was arrested.

In court, the federal prosecutors said Caldwell has been under surveillance since Jan. 27, the day he activated two phones stolen from a Metro PCS store just two days earlier.

While under surveillance, officers even tracked him to the hospital last week, where his girlfriend gave birth to Caldwell’s son.

In arguing for a lower bond, Caldwell’s attorney said his newborn child is one of the reasons his client won’t be a flight risk. The judge agreed that Caldwell could be freed for now on $35,000 bail.

If convicted of the federal robbery charge, Caldwell could face up to 20 years in prison. His co-defendant’s hearing has been postponed to next month. 

Categories: Local San Diego News