Man gets prison for robbing 11 local businesses

SAN DIEGO — A man who took part in robberies at nearly a dozen San Diego County businesses over a period of several weeks was sentenced Monday to more than a dozen years in federal prison.

Justin Wayne Caldwell, 32, was sentenced to 151 months behind bars for his role in 11 robberies spanning the period from Jan. 25 to Feb. 21, 2017.

Caldwell’s co-defendant, Carlos Adolfo Soto, 41, was sentenced to a 140-month term last week.

The men robbed 10 Metro-PCS stores and a Subway restaurant during the spree. Typically, Caldwell served as the getaway driver, while Soto would brandish firearms and other weapons at store clerks and customers, and demand cellphones and cash, authorities said.

Soto was dubbed the “pinky bandit” for the way his pinky protruded out while wielding a weapon. Federal prosecutors said he usually used a pellet gun that resembled a pistol, but also wielded a machete and a taser during some of the holdups.

Caldwell also entered one of the businesses while brandishing a weapon “on at least one occasion,” prosecutors said.

Investigators tracked the pair to the scene of their final robbery thanks to a stolen phone one of them had registered. Soto and Caldwell pleaded guilty in November.

In addition to the prison sentences, U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan ordered Soto and Caldwell to each pay $42,000 in restitution to their victims.

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