Pablo Armando Valenzuela and Aaron Miller are accused of being part of a “brazen” New York City robbery crew that stole more than $800,000 of jewelry in a “violent” Bronx smash and grab, federal authorities say. They were charged on November 9, 2022, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
“As alleged, the defendants and their co-conspirators committed a violent robbery using any weapons they could get their hands on that left employees of a Bronx jewelry store injured and their store destroyed,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “This Office will continue to aggressively prosecute robberies, especially those that are accompanied with violence.”
According to the press release, Valenzuela, 32, and Miller, 23, were charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence after an investigation by the FBI and NYPD into the August 10, 2022, robbery. Police believe at least four other people were involved in the armed robbery of the East Fordham Road jewelry store.
The Robbers Were Armed With a Gun, Bear Spray & Hammers & Pepper-Sprayed Workers, Federal Prosecutors Say
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement, “We allege Valenzuela and Miller carried out a robbery at a jewelry store, stole more than $800,000 in merchandise, violently trashed the business, and injured employees by using bear spray. Smash and grab robberies have become more brazen, and the criminals responsible must be held responsible. This investigation should serve as a warning to anyone contemplating a similar crime – you will face justice in the federal system for breaking the law.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell added, “This violence will never be tolerated in our city. And actions must have consequences. Today’s charges reflect our commitment to safeguarding the people and businesses of New York City, and our relentless pursuit of anyone who would seek to do them harm. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New York Office of the FBI, and every investigator who worked on this important case.”
According to prosecutors, Valenzuela and Miller were among a group who entered the Bronx jewelry store armed with a gun, bear spray and hammers. Valenzuela, wearing a ski mask, sprayed a can of bear spray at employees, “temporarily blinding them,” prosecutors said. The other robbers, including Miller, then entered the store and used haers to destroy glass display cases, with one of the robbers brandishing a firearm, prosecutors said. They stole more than “$800,000 worth of jewelry before fleeing on mopeds, in cars and by foot,” according to the press release.
Miller & Valenzuela, Both Bronx Residents, Face 20 Years to Life in Prison if Convicted
Valenzuela and Miller were arrested November 9 and appeared in court that same day. They were ordered held in custody pending a detention hearing, records show. It was not immediately clear if they have attorneys who could comment on their behalf. If convicted, they face between 20 years to life in federal prison, according to the press release.
In the criminal complaint, investigators said they identified Valenzuela through surveillance video recorded at the Sheridan Apartment Building about two miles away from the jewelry store. The video shows’s Valenzuela’s face. Investigators then used other video to track his movement to the store where the robbery occurred, according to the complaint.
The FBI said Valenzuela’s cell phone pinged at the apartment building and jewelry store on the day and time of the robbery, according to the complaint. Miller was seen on surveillance video arriving at the apartment building after the robbery on a moped “carrying stolen items,” the FBI said. Investigators matched shorts he was seen wearing in an Instagram photo to the shorts the suspect was wearing in surveillance video, according to the complaint.