facing jail time
The five men all plead guilty
and could get 20 years in prison
Five Honolulu men each face up to 20 years in federal prison for robbing pizza delivery drivers at knifepoint in March and April 2002.
Brian Raley, 20, was the last of the five to plead guilty Friday to obstructing commerce through robbery before visiting U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken.
Pleading guilty earlier to the same charge were Raymond Ridela, 20; Armond Jackson, 21; Carmichael Doan, 22; and Matthew Emshoff, 22.
Ridela, who was involved in all the robberies assisted each time by one of the other four men, also pleaded guilty to an additional count of conspiracy to obstruct commerce through robbery.
Because of the repeat nature of the crime, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI felt that the case should be dealt with on the federal level, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier.
The defendants ordered pizza delivery on four separate occasions, calling a different pizza company each time. Ridela and one other defendant would then meet the drivers and rob them of whatever money they had and their cell phones.
In one case the driver managed to fend them off.
"It's not a very intelligent crime because pizza delivery drivers typically carry very little change," Poirier said.
The most cash delivery drivers will carry is $50, he said. "I don't think they got more than that in any given robbery."
It was not simply the financial impact the crime had on the pizza companies that was significant, but that the delivery drivers were having knives pulled on them, Poirier said. "It's very traumatic for the victims."
Art Ross, attorney for Raley, said his client had a minimal role in the robberies, calling it a case of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Raley was not like Ridela, who bragged about eating free and was into intimidating people, Ross said.
Raley had no idea Ridela would be pulling a knife on the delivery driver, he said. The driver never saw Raley during the holdup, but the other defendants placed him at the scene, Ross said.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Raley is likely looking at a prison term of between 33 to 41 months, Ross said, adding that he will try to argue for probation. Raley has no previous criminal record, he said.
Raley will be sentenced Nov. 24. Ridela will be sentenced Sept. 15. Emshoff, Doan and Jackson will be sentenced in January.