Robberies are normally charged in state court, but the federal charges allege they interfered with interstate commerce by threats and violence. They are also charged with conspiracy to affect interstate commerce by robbery.
Carlos Adolfo Soto, 39, and Justin Wayne Caldwell, 30, were arrested Feb. 21 after Soto allegedly robbed the Metro PCS store at 2:05 p.m. at 909 Grand Ave. San Diego Police recovered $155 in cash, nine cellular telephones, and a pellet gun that resembled a pistol.
The conspiracy charge carries a 20-year sentence and so does each federal robbery charge. Soto and Caldwell were arraigned March 7 in U.S. District Court.
The nine other robberies were all at Metro PCS stores in Clairemont, Normal Heights, Serra Mesa, San Marcos, Spring Valley, Nestor, Poway, and several were on El Cajon Blvd.
Soto agreed to remain in the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail for now, but Caldwell’s attorney asked for bail and a magistrate set it at $35,000. Caldwell also remains in jail.
The U.S. Attorney’s office objected to the $35,000 bail figure and asked Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford to reconsider the ruling. They asked her to either raise the bail or deny it altogether at a hearing set for March 23. Caldwell is a flight risk, court papers say.
There were 16 people who were employees and customers whose lives were threatened in the 10 hold-ups, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The robber pointed at what looked like a pistol at the head and body of some employees and customers, but only a pellet gun was found with Soto by police. The victim in the first hold-up on Jan. 25 was threatened with a machete.