The “inside man” and the would-be getaway driver accused in the January heist of a postal truck in Ansonia both face up to five years behind bars after taking plea deals in the case Wednesday (Aug. 7).
Both of the defendants — Meriden residents Edwin Olivo, 25, and Hecmarie Gomez, 27 — pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine Wednesday to charges of second-degree larceny and third-degree burglary.
Under Alford, a defendant does not admit all of the allegations he or she is charged with, but concedes that a conviction is likely if the case went to trial.
According to plea deals worked out between their lawyers and Milford State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor, the two will be given 10-year prison terms to be suspended after up to five years behind bars when they are sentenced Oct. 16.
As part of the deal, lawyers for Olivo and Gomez will have the right to argue for less or no jail time for their clients at the sentencing.
The man accused of actually perpetrating the “robbery” of the postal truck, Juan Mercado, 28, pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree larceny and third-degree burglary before Judge Iannotti Friday (Aug. 8).
Mercado received a plea deal in the case identical to those offered to Olivo and Gomez, and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 10.
Lawlor said in court Wednesday Ansonia police were called to the post office on Main Street about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18 after postal inspectors reported they had seen Mercado take a bag containing more than $12,000 in cash and checks from a private postal truck there and detained him.
The truck in question had been driven that day by Olivo, Lawlor said.
Unbeknownst to Olivo, he was being followed on his route by the postal inspectors who suspected a heist was in the offing based on a previous robbery in Cromwell of a truck Olivo had driven.
The inspectors saw Olivo park the truck at the post office, Lawlor said, after which Mercado broke into it and took the loot.
The postal inspectors then detained Mercado before he get away.
Mercado was found with a backpack that had more than $12,000 in cash and checks from the postal truck, according to police.
He was also carrying heroin and a fake handgun.
After Mercado was arrested — on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, illegal use of a facsimile firearm, second-degree threatening, and possession of narcotics with intent to sell — police found Olivo’s phone number in Mercado’s cell phone, according to Lawlor.
They then confronted Olivo with the information, Lawlor said, and Olivo confessed that he was aware of Mercado’s plans to steal from the postal truck he was driving.
Olivo and Gomez are both free after posting bonds in the case.
Mercado has been held on bonds totaling more than $200,000 since his Jan. 18 arrest in Ansonia.
In addition to the Ansonia case, Olivo and Mercado face burglary and larceny charges at Superior Court in Middletown in connection with the Cromwell postal truck robbery, which occurred Jan. 4.