Crime - Sacto 911

State Fair robbers get prison terms

A judge sentenced two men who robbed a Cal Expo food vendor of more than $200,000 during the California State Fair four years ago to prison terms Friday, though one walked free after the sentencing because he’d served his time in jail awaiting trial.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall sentenced Gene Irvin Felder, 36, to six years in prison, citing a number of aggravating circumstances. Felder induced others to commit crimes, planned the robbery with “sophistication and professionalism,” and had prior convictions, Fall said.

She denied Felder’s request to stay his sentence for a month so he could visit his mother and other relatives.

“I just want to stay a little bit longer so I can see my family before I go up,” Felder, who was in custody and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, told the judge.

Deputies led him away in handcuffs.

Court documents identified co-defendant Antonio Terrance Harvey as Felder’s brother. Harvey, 54, walked into the downtown courtroom in street clothes. Fall sentenced him to two years in prison, noting his “insignificant record of criminal conduct.”

She sentenced him to time already served – after 651 days in jail plus good behavior credits earned – and told him to report to parole officers.

Fall also ordered both men to pay restitution of $200,287.95, the amount they stole from food vendor Ovations, plus much smaller amounts to three women who they held at gunpoint during the robbery.

The two men walked into a counting room in the grandstand at Cal Expo’s horse track at about 10 p.m. on July 21, 2010, and told the three women working there to get on the floor, according to detectives.

“Don’t move,” one of the armed men said. “If you pick up your head, I will kill you,” a victim reported.

None of the victims could identify the robbers, though reports at the time said they were wearing food-service uniforms. The heist was committed in an area with no security guards or surveillance cameras, fair officials said at the time.

About an hour after the robbery, Twin Rivers Unified School District police spotted Harvey – who was then an Ovations employee – standing beside his truck on Roseville Road at Marconi Avenue with duct tape wrapped around his arms and legs. He claimed to have been kidnapped, prosecutors said.

“He said he was driving to his house to meet his brother for a beer at approximately 9 p.m. when what he thought was an unmarked police car waved him down,” Deputy District Attorney Katherine Martin said in her trial brief. “He claimed that three men got out of the car and kidnapped him at gunpoint, wrapping him in duct tape and driving him around for approximately an hour and a half. During that time they took his work phone and keys, specifically asking which keys opened the money room at Cal Expo.”

Authorities questioned that account, though Felder and Harvey weren’t booked on charges for more than two years after the robbery.

The two were set to go to trial late last month, but during jury selection on July 30, they pleaded no contest to robbery charges as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Harvey was released from jail at the time. Felder, who had violated probation, was kept in custody.