Man Pleads Guilty to Commercial Burglaries, Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

INDIO (CNS) – A 36-year-old man was sentenced to four years in state prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $14,800 from a retail business in Palm Desert within a six-month period.

Phillipe Gonzalez of Indio was arrested Jan. 4, 2022 along with Desert Hot Springs resident Sarah Alexandria Cantu, 34, and Indio residents Jose Angel Perez, 41, and Devon Montoya, 27, when deputies responded to a report of grand theft at a retail store in the 72-300 block of Highway 111 at 7:19 p.m., according to Lt. Chris Willison of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty Wednesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio to one felony count each of organized retail theft with intent to sell, burglary and grand theft of over $950, according to court records. He was immediately sentenced to four years in state prison.

Perez faces the same charges in addition to 10 felony counts — five each of burglary and of grand theft of over $950, but he failed to appear in court April 19 and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Cantu pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to nine felony counts — one of organized retail theft with intent to sell and four each of burglary and of grand theft of over $950, according to court records. She was immediately sentenced to two years of formal probation.

According to court records, the three charged defendants are accused of stealing $14,885 worth of merchandise between July 13, 2021, and Jan. 4, 2022.

It’s alleged that on July 13, 2021, Perez burglarized and stole over $2,500 in merchandise from an Ulta store in Palm Desert, according to court records. Then on Aug. 10, 2021, Cantu and allegedly Perez stole $1,200 worth of merchandise from an Ulta in La Quinta.

On Dec. 8, 2021, Perez allegedly returned to the Ulta in Palm Desert and stole $3,600 in merchandise and is suspected of returning the following day to steal $1,000 in merchandise with Cantu and Gonzalez, according to court records. Cantu, allegedly  with Perez, stole $2,349 on Dec. 26, 2022, and on Jan. 4, 2022 — the day of their arrest — $1,012 in merchandise was stolen.

Willison said on the night of the theft, deputies found a suspect vehicle matching a burglary report’s description in the 72-800 block of Highway 111, and as they approached, one suspect ran away. Authorities caught that suspect, and the remaining ones inside the vehicle before taking them into custody.

No charges were filed against Montoya, although she was initially arrested along with the other defendants.

Willison said the stolen property was found and returned.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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