A Las Vegas man was sentenced to a little more than 19 years in federal prison Thursday for his role in a series of armed convenience store robberies in 2010.
Raymond Juarez, 22, who led a life of crime as a gang associate while growing up, also was ordered to serve five years of supervised release after he gets out of prison.
Juarez and two other men, Jose Figueroa and Chase Sitton, were charged in six robberies that occurred between November and December 2010. In one of the robberies, a convenience store clerk was shot in the stomach.
All three men pleaded guilty to the crimes earlier this year. Figueroa and Sitton are to be sentenced in August.
On Thursday, Juarez's family members openly wept in court as Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt told the defendant he was facing 230 months in prison. Juarez, in jail garb and chains, appeared to wipe away tears.
"This case has been a wake-up call for Raymond," his lawyer, Krystallin Hernandez, told Hunt. "Raymond is finished being a follower."
Hernandez argued that Juarez was the lookout during the robberies and did not brandish a gun. She said Juarez participated in the robberies while believing weapons would not be fired.
When given a chance to speak, Juarez apologized to the victims, including the store clerk who survived being shot by a co-defendant.
"I understand what I have done, and I know that it was wrong," Juarez told Hunt.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Silva argued for the stiff prison time, saying Juarez continued to participate in two more robberies after the store clerk was shot. That argument resonated with Hunt as he handed out the sentence.
Hunt said he found it hard to believe that Juarez didn't think someone could get hurt, and he pointed out how terrifying it is to be a victim of an armed robbery.
Afterward, as U.S. marshals led Juarez away, he looked at his family members in the gallery, threw up his arms and shook his head.
Hernandez would not say whether she would appeal the sentence.
Contact reporter Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.