San Diegan guilty of basketball heist

Fan kidnapped, robbed after UTEP game

San Diegan Brandon Lawrence Jones and El Paso's Jesus Manuel Gallegos have pleaded guilty to kidnapping and carjacking a man leaving a basketball game Nov. 5, 2011, beating him and emptying his bank accounts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The two have been incarcerated since Nov. 7, 2011. The victim was leaving a University of Texas El Paso game when Jones forced him into his own car at gunpoint, forced him to identify banks where he had accounts, and to reveal his PIN numbers. Gallegos joined Jones after the initial abduction. The pair emptied the victim's bank accounts. The three drove to Clines Corner, New Mexico, where Jones and Gallegos fell asleep, and the victim escaped and got help, according to the FBI.

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And it took over a full year to get to the point of them pleading guilty? When do they get sentenced? And when will they get out? (After all that pre-trial confinement and post-trial waiting for sentencing, they may owe no more time.)

Visduh: Those are good questions. The sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled. Both face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Best, Don Bauder

These SHOULD be treated as serious crimes, but too often first offenders are given very light sentences. Your piece didn't specifically say that this was in federal court. But just because this is a "federal offense" doesn't mean there will be a stiff sentence. The federal courts and prison system are overloaded now and a judge might take the easy way out.

Visduh: Yes, this was in federal court in New Mexico. Best, Don Bauder

Carjacking and kidnapping are serious offenses. Transporting the victim over state lines was a serious error that probably triggered federal offenses. They probably netted $2,000 or less from the crime. The pair could have probably netted more cash by robbing a string of banks and have faced less prison time if caught. The risk versus reward trade off from this crime appears to be extremely low. These individuals are real losers.

Burwell: Agreed. You also have to wonder how the two fell asleep with their victim in the car in New Mexico. Were drugs or booze involved? Best, Don Bauder

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