One of Two Men Accused in Violent Armed Robbery in La Quinta Pleads Not Guilty

City News Service

One of two men accused of participating in a violent armed robbery which allegedly included use of multiple AK-47s inside the gated community that houses the Arnold Palmer PGA West golf course in La Quinta pleaded not guilty Thursday to multiple felony charges.

Garrett Thomas Basich, 31, of Desert Hot Springs and Fernando Leal Jr., 40, of Indio are each charged with two counts of robbery and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. They additionally face sentence-enhancing allegations of using a firearm — AK-47s — during the commission of a robbery.

Basich was arraigned at the Banning Justice Center before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 17 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

Leal was also slated to be arraigned Thursday, but the status of his court proceedings was not immediately reflected in court records.

Both men remain in custody on $500,000 bail.

They were arrested Monday on suspicion of joining two other suspects in carrying out the Dec. 20, 2020 robbery in the 79000 block of Olympia Fields.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the robbers bashed the victims’ heads with guns, rendering the two men unconscious, before stealing their possessions and fleeing the scene.

The two other men — Luis Jose Leyva Jr., 32, and Noe Millan Mora, 30, both of Desert Hot Springs — were previously arrested and charged in the case.

Leyva pleaded not guilty in March to 13 felony charges, including six counts of robbery and two counts each of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and assault with a gun. He also faces gun and great bodily injury sentence- enhancing allegations.

Mora pleaded not guilty in April to four counts of robbery and sentence-enhancing allegations of being armed — also with an AK-47 — during the commission of a robbery.

Sheriff’s officials did not specify how they pinpointed the group as suspects in the crime.

Three of the suspects have prior documented felony convictions in Riverside County; Mora does not.

Leyva has prior felony convictions including burglary and vehicle theft, Basich has three felony convictions for grand theft and Leal has a felony conviction for kidnapping.

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