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Probation for perfume heist perpetrators

Four Fla. men faced one count each of grand larceny for Nov. 21 trailer theft

By Alex Bridges — abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — Four men from Florida accused of stealing a trailer full of perfume in November received suspended prison terms after pleading guilty to lesser charges Wednesday.

Frederick County authorities charged Osvaldo Pedraza-Rojas, 48, Jose Canaura-Ferriero, 44, and Armando Canaura-Ferriero, 53, all of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Denis Perez-Lopez de Castro, 40, of Loxahatchee, Fla., with one count each of grand larceny in the Nov. 21 heist.

Each man appeared in Frederick County Circuit Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to a single count of possession with the intent to sell or distribute stolen property.

Retired Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. accepted their pleas and sentenced each man to 10 years in prison with all time suspended. The judge ordered Pedrazo-Rojas and Armando Canaura-Ferriero to serve three years of supervised probation in their home state. Whisenant ordered Jose Canaura-Ferriero and Perez-Lopez de Castro to each to serve five years of supervised probation.

Agreements reached between the commonwealth and the defendants’ attorneys, Roger Inger, Rod Bryson and Frank Rubio, called for the men to plead guilty to the lesser charge under Alford v. North Carolina. The defendants maintain their innocence but acknowledge the commonwealth has sufficient evidence and they don’t want to risk the court finding them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Speaking through an interpreter, the judge asked each defendant why he had entered the Alford plea, and all replied, “because it’s in my best interest.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Robbins explained that had the case gone to trial, evidence would have shown the defendants were seen by a witness at Weber’s Nursery on Martinsburg Pike attempting to paint the trailer, which has been reported stolen from a trucking company near Roanoke. The witness would have testified to seeing the men holding paint rollers and trays while standing by the trailer. When the owner of the nursery walked up to confront the men, three fled in a Jeep Liberty while the fourth entered the tractor and tried to drive away, according to Robbins. The business owner went to his vehicle and drove it in front of the tractor to stop it. The driver jumped out of the tractor and fled.

Brandon Guard, then a deputy with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a call of four suspects fleeing the area in what authorities soon determined to be a rental vehicle, Robbins said. The deputy headed to the tractor-trailer and saw a white Ford sedan traveling toward his patrol vehicle, attempt to pull into the area of the nursery but then continue on its way. The deputy turned around and followed the Ford for a short distance before he stopped the vehicle.

Further investigation revealed both the Jeep and the Ford were rented to one of the suspects, according to the prosecutor. The tractor also is owned by one of the suspects, Robbins said. Authorities found cell phones and long-range walkie-talkies in the vehicles, according to Robbins.

Investigators determined the trailer contained Elizabeth Arden perfume and beauty supplies valued at more than $64,000, court documents stated. The investigation revealed the trailer was one of four, carrying $250,000 worth of Elizabeth Arden products, taken from a trucking company approximately 14 to 16 hours before the defendants’ arrests, according to Robbins. The other three trailers were found empty in New Jersey, he said.