By Brecken Branstrator
Pittsburgh—A Colombian man arrested in his home country and extradited to Pittsburgh has pleaded guilty to his role in the 2013 robbery of a traveling jewelry salesman.

According to a press release issued Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, 35-year-old Oscar Javier Rodriguez Roa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery before U.S. Senior District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose.

(The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce in any way.)

Rodriguez Roa, a national and citizen of Colombia who previously resided in Atlanta, admitted he was a member of a South American theft ring that targeted traveling jewelry salespersons in the United States and elsewhere.

According to the Justice Department, on or around May 5, 2013, Rodriguez Roa and several accomplices drove from Lawrenceville, Georgia—a suburb of Atlanta—to western Pennsylvania in a rented gray Nissan Maxima.

On May 8, Rodriguez Roa and three unnamed accomplices cornered a traveling jewelry salesman from New York City as he exited his car in the parking lot of a jewelry store in Wexford, just north of Pittsburgh.

Rodriguez Roa smashed the rear driver’s side window of the salesman’s car with a garden tool, the Justice Department said, reached into the car and stole a black shoulder bag containing about $500,000 worth of gemstones and jewelry.

An accomplice punctured the car’s rear driver’s side tire while a second accomplice kept watch over the salesman and the third drove the getaway car.

After the robbery, witnesses followed the Nissan Maxima to a church parking lot.

When the four realized they had been followed, the Justice Department said they drove to a nearby muffler shop where they abandoned the car and fled on foot to a nearby CVS.

Video surveillance from the pharmacy obtained by law enforcement shows Rodriguez Roa and one accomplice entering the store, with Rodriguez Roa talking on a cell phone while the latter was carrying the black shoulder bag with the gemstones and jewelry. The other two accomplices waited outside.

Records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed that Rodriguez Roa fled the United States a week after the robbery, on May 16, 2013, boarding a flight from Houston to Bogota, Colombia.

Forensics later connected him to the crime, matching his fingerprints with prints found on the front passenger door of the Nissan Maxima and on a video game console found in the trunk.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 12. As part of his plea deal, he faces three to four years in prison, after which time he will be deported, according to local news.

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