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    Man gets 90 years in jewel robberies

    The robber terrorized jewelers and their families to make big scores in the late 1990s.

    By GRAHAM BRINK, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 3, 2002


    TAMPA -- After a glitch in sentencing the day before, jewelry store robber Anthony Ahedo was back in federal court Thursday.

    The outcome, however, was essentially the same.

    Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday sentenced Ahedo, 29, to life in prison. Thursday, the sentence became 90 years.

    "As a practical matter, 90 years is even more than life," said federal prosecutor Carolyn Adams.

    Merryday apologized to Ahedo, a former St. Petersburg resident, for having to bring him back. He told Ahedo that a further reading of the sentencing laws and the transcript from Wednesday's hearing revealed that the original sentence may not have been "technically correct."

    The judge sentenced Ahedo for his role in two high-profile jewel heists in Pinellas County. A jury had found Ahedo guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of commerce by moving commodities obtained in a robbery, and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Ahedo was previously sentenced to 16 years for a similar robbery in Hernando County.

    The crimes had Tampa Bay jewelers on edge in 1998 and 1999.

    In 1998, masked men broke into the Treasure Island home of Joe and Carole Quatkemeyer, demanded keys and alarm codes to their business, Pasadena Estate Jewelers, and stole cash and jewelry worth more than $300,000.

    In January 1999, armed men entered the Spring Hill home of Goldsmith Jewelers store manager James DeLach. They handcuffed him, his wife, and their three children, and forced DeLach to turn over the keys to the store. They made off with goods worth about $1.2-million retail, sheriff's reports said.

    A month later, Diamond Bank Jewelers near St. Petersburg's Tyrone Square Mall was robbed. Difficulty getting into the store vault forced the burglars to return to the store owner's home and bring him to the store. They stole about $500,000 worth of merchandise.

    In June 1999, Hernando detectives obtained a wire tap for the home of Ahedo's brother at 2256 Gold Road in Spring Hill. They thought Hymen Ahedo and his wife, Tara Ahedo, might be involved in selling the stolen goods. The tap revealed information about the robberies and also about two unrelated residential burglaries and drug activity, officials said.

    Ahedo was accused with Carl Roger Campos and Eddie Gomez, both of whom pleaded guilty and testified against Ahedo during the trial on the two Pinellas cases. Campos received 29 years and Gomez almost nine years.

    -- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Graham Brink can be reached at (813) 226-3365 or brink@sptimes.com.

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