Two accused in attempted robbery in York face more than 15 years in prison


Two men who pleaded guilty to an attempted savage robbery in York in 2019 have each been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison.

A third man who admitted to being part of the scheme will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Court documents show Eric Mercado, Steven Hardy and Nathaniel Rivera came from Massachusetts in 2019 in the hope of stealing money and marijuana from a medical marijuana caregiver who lived in York. Instead, their victim retaliated with a bottle of alcohol and was shot by two of the men before running to a neighbor’s house. Rivera surrendered to law enforcement a few weeks after the robbery, and the other two men were arrested three months later.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy oversaw all three cases and imposed penalties on two defendants in separate hearings in Portland on Tuesday. All three pleaded guilty in February 2020, but their sentences were delayed during the pandemic until the court could meet in person.

“This home invasion can certainly be described … as brazen, dangerous, life threatening, showing complete disregard for human life and creating circumstances that could easily have resulted in death,” Levy said at a hearing. .

The victim has never been identified in court documents beyond his initials – RS He attended the convictions on Tuesday with his family and wrote a letter to the court about his experience. That statement was sealed by the court, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Perry read excerpts to the judge on Tuesday.

The man wrote that the attempted robbery had changed his life and made him less confident. He described how he stayed away from his children for months after the incident because he feared for their safety if the abusers returned.

“I really believe their intention was to kill me,” the man wrote.

Mercado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery under the Hobbs Law, or robbery “affecting interstate or foreign commerce”, one count of robbery under the Hobbs Law, and one count of unloading. a gun during a violent crime. The latter is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Levy sentenced him to 16 on Tuesday.

Hardy pleaded guilty to the same crimes. Levy sentenced him to 15.5 years in prison on Tuesday.

Both defendants made moving statements during their hearings, saying they felt remorse and embarrassment over their actions, promising to be better fathers for their children in the future.

“Things got out of hand,” Mercado said. “I forgive you. I apologize to my family.

“I have walked this road and I will do anything to ensure that my children never follow the path I have taken, and I will never walk this path again,” said Hardy.

Rivera, who is due to be sentenced Wednesday, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery under Hobbs Law. The maximum sentence for this crime is 20 years in prison, but Rivera has agreed not to appeal a sentence of less than five years.

Court documents describe Mercado and Rivera as the organizers of the theft, but Perry told the judge on Tuesday that Rivera faced a lesser sentence because he failed to fire a gun on the night in question and because he provided information about the case to investigators.

In an affidavit, police alleged that Mercado wanted to make up for the recent loss of thousands of dollars in cocaine, and the conspirators believed they could fetch between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000 on the theft.

The prosecutor also filed a written account of the night in question, which the defendants agreed not to dispute. This document indicates that the victim knew Rivera from his marijuana business and that the three defendants worked with others on the theft plan.

Evidence presented in a trial would include text messages, eyewitness testimony and forensic reports at the crime scene. Perry also released a video captured by a surveillance camera, which showed the men chasing the victim from the house and picked up the sound of a gunshot.

The prosecutor said Rivera called the victim on May 10, 2019 and said he was with two women who wanted to come and party. They then went to the man’s house, drank alcohol and met in a hot tub. Rivera then unlocked the door for Mercado and Hardy, who later arrived armed with a shotgun and handgun. They tried to rob the man, but he resisted. Both men fired their guns but missed the victim, who was able to run away from the house and escape.

In the separate hearings, Perry described Mercado and Hardy as men with a long criminal history, and he said they acted regardless of the safety of others that night.

“It is only by the grace of God that this is in federal court as a robbery under the Hobbs Act and not as a murder case in state court,” Perry said.

The judge also credited the man’s quick thinking.

“It’s not often that I’m surprised by what I see, but it’s really out of the ordinary,” Levy said. “I think it was thanks to the victim’s presence of mind that he saved his life.”

Each man’s defense attorney described substance use disorder as one of many negative factors in their lives. But they also pointed to periods of sobriety and stable employment as signs that they could lead successful lives outside of prison. Mercado’s family crowded onto a bench in the courtroom, and his mother and 14-year-old son both asked the court to be lenient. Hardy’s father and former employer attended his hearing and spoke on his behalf.

In both cases, Levy said he imposed penalties that would take into account the seriousness of the crime, but he also considered their future with their children. He encouraged them to take whatever treatment they need for substance use disorders and mental illnesses, as well as vocational training that may be helpful upon release.

“You have things you can be proud of,” he told Mercado. “You have reasons to live. If you serve your sentence, you serve your sentence and you get out, and you do something of yourself, then you will have given your children a gift, that example that people can redeem themselves. “

In their plea agreements, Mercado and Hardy both waived their rights to appeal a sentence under 17. The judge also ordered them to pay more than $ 3,700 in restitution.

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