Officials: Middletown man sentenced in $1.1M jewelry heist connected to 2 other robberies

A Middletown man will spend more than two years in federal prison and must pay his share of $1.1 million in restitution, the value of the gold, diamonds and gems he and others stole three years ago from a jewelry salesmen.

Amit “Alex” Patel, 49, called the ringleader in the jewelry heist, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring to rob two salesmen from the Diamond District in Midtown Manhattan after they traveled to a jewelry show in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, in 2016. He was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Susan Dlott also ordered Patel to repay nearly $1.1 million.

He will split the restitution among his four co-defendants from Middletown who were sentenced earlier this year: Deanna Williams, 37, to three years; Mimi Chang, 42, to two years; Danny Ray Horne, 39, to 105 months; and Andrea Mullins, 36, to six months of home confinement.

Prosecutors say Patel has been charged in two other jewelry robberies. In both cases, Patel allegedly left behind an item that linked him to the jewelry heists.

In 2013, six bags of gold, diamond rings, earrings and necklaces, valued at $250,000, were stolen from the of trunk of an Atlanta jewelry dealer’s rented car parked at the same Monroeville hotel, court filings say.

That dealer hosted private jewelry shows in various cities, mostly for members of the Indian-American community, Pittsburgh media reported.

Whoever took the jewelry smashed the driver’s side window, leaving shattered glass on the seat. But police were able to process blood from whoever broke the glass, according to Pittsburgh media reports.

Patel also pleaded guilty to robbery in Butler County for forcibly taking a $40,000 diamond wedding ring from a Realtor in 2013. He faces up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 11.

The defendants were charged with one count of conspiring to commit a Hobbs Act robbery. The Hobbs Act is a federal law prohibiting interference with interstate commerce and violating the law is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Patel’s attorney, Christopher Urbano, said his client is an alcoholic and he ran several hotels and a hospitality organization. He also ran a free methadone clinic in Middletown, according to court filings.

Patel also will be placed in the prison’s substance abuse treatment program, and after he’s released, have three years of supervision. He is prohibited from incurring any new credit or establishing any lines of credit and he must allow his probation officer access to his financial records, according to the court documents.

Two others involved in the robbery, Williams and Horne, were drug addicts who agreed to participate in the robbery to feed their addictions, according to court documents.

The FBI began investigating the Monroeville case when victims filed a local police report after the April 2, 2016 robbery.

The New York City jewelry salesmen came to suburban Pittsburgh every year to sell jewelry at a local hotel, according to media reports.

The robbery took place after two jewelry salesmen finished a show at a Monroeville hotel and convention center and stopped at a nearby Indian restaurant, Udipi Café, according to court filings and media reports.

One victim went inside the restaurant to pick up food, leaving the other alone in the van with suitcases of jewelry.

A parking lot surveillance video shows four people running from a waiting car and toward the jewelry dealers’ van, and then running back carrying suitcases. The robbers punched the victim in the van, according to Pittsburgh media reports.

Law enforcement officers were unable to recover the jewelry and diamonds that were stolen in the heist. The victim was reimbursed through insurance.

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