FREMONT -- A Newark man, one of nine people arrested and convicted of a series of 15 armed robberies at convenience stores and restaurants throughout the Bay Area, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for his role in the 2011 crime spree.
Walter Simmons, 19, was found guilty Oct. 16 of charges including robbery, attempted robbery and being an accessory to robbery, said Fremont Police spokesman Geneva Bosques.
The masked holdups, which involved Simmons and eight other Newark residents, took place from July 12 to Aug. 22, 2011 at gas stations, 7-11 stores and 'Wing Stop' restaurants in Fremont, San Leandro, Milpitas, Hayward, Newark and Union City.
During the series of armed holdups, the robbers wore ski masks and red bandannas over their faces and brandished a firearm. They were also responsible for a residential burglary in Newark and an armed robbery near a Bank of America branch in Fremont, Bosques said.
Due to the number of armed heists, Fremont detectives worked with investigators from Milpitas, San Leandro, Union City, Hayward and Newark police departments. Biological evidence, witness statements, suspect statements and surveillance evidence initially linked the group to the robberies, Bosques said.
Simmons was arrested Aug. 31, 2011 at a residence in Hayward, Bosques said. His remaining cohorts were arrested on different dates beginning in late August through Sept. 2011. They are: Orlando Zendejas, 18; Andrew Heilman, 18; Omare Murphy, 18; Roger Perez, 18; Keirsten Brown, 18; Christopher Phillips, 20; Vincent Castillo, 22 and Antonio Reza 19.
In September 2011, all nine suspects were charged in connection with the armed robberies.
Before the start of trial in Alameda County Superior Court, eight of the nine suspects -- everyone but Simmons -- pleaded no contest to their respective felony charges in connection to the robberies. Four suspects -- Zendejas, Perez, Murphy and Heilman -- received state prison sentences ranging from three to 14 years behind bars.
Brown, Castillo, Phillips and Reza received sentences in county jail. Zendejas, Perez, Murphy, Heilman and Brown are also facing armed robbery charges in Santa Clara County in connection to the Milpitas robbery.
Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.