The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
A New York man twice prosecuted and convicted of victimizing local citizens is now heading to a California state prison.
Defendant John Louis Cea, age 24, of Long Island, New York, was previously convicted by plea on July 1st of felony grand theft of an amount of money over $950, as well as convicted of a totally separate crime of robbery in the second degree, also a felony.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder sentenced defendant Cea Thursday afternoon to 68 months in state prison, the maximum sentence allowed by California law for these two convictions when sentenced together.
Robbery is characterized by California law as a violent felony so any work or good time credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards his early release from state prison shall be limited to no more than 15% of the total sentence that now has been imposed.
Traveling from New York to California with others to commit crime, defendant Cea was in Ukiah in October 2020 when he stole $32,000 from an elderly, 85-year old businessman who was fixing a private ATM he had in a local cannabis business.
Cea and the others watched as the man went back and forth between his Prius and the cannabis store. When the man was not looking, Cea opened the elderly man’s hatchback and got away with a spare money machine cartridge loaded with $32,000 in cash.
Then, approximately six weeks later, Cea and another New York man were again back in Mendocino County, this time to steal marijuana. After making inquiries of people in a Willits music shop as to where he could purchase marijuana, Cea convinced a young twenty-something couple to meet him and his partner at the Burger King parking lot in Willits with two pounds of marijuana.
When the couple arrived at Burger King as had been arranged, Cea and the other man forcibly took from the couple their marijuana without paying for it and then recklessly fled north on Highway 101 in their rental vehicle while being pursued by law enforcement.
Crashing into a building in Laytonville, Cea’s partner was arrested near the crash scene, but Cea was able to elude capture and escape back to New York, where he was eventually arrested and extradited out to California.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence that supported today’s combined prison sentence were the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the Willits Police Department, New York law enforcement investigators, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.
Special thanks is extended to private citizen witnesses who called for law enforcement help and provided important information that aided the investigation. Those witnesses included a retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy and the Lake County District Attorney’s Chief Investigator.
The attorney who has been personally prosecuting this defendant and his two cases is District Attorney David Eyster.
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