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Man pleads guilty in Glenville gun store heist

Man pleads guilty in Glenville gun store heist

Prosecutor: Many of the stolen firearms made their way to Rochester
Man pleads guilty in Glenville gun store heist
Police investigate a robbery at Target Sports Inc., on Oct. 23, 2017
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Daily Gazette Photographer

ALBANY -- One of two men accused of stealing 67 guns during an October break-in at Target Sports in Glenville admitted his guilt Monday and faces the prospect of more than two decades in prison.

Authorities also said on Monday about half of the rifles, shotguns and handguns taken during the heist remain on the streets. Most are believed to have been taken to Rochester by those who stole them, officials said.

Jose Fontanez, 36, appeared in U.S. District Court in Albany Monday morning and pleaded guilty to three felony counts related to the heist and aftermath.

He faces up to 30 years in state prison at his August sentencing and, as part of his guilty plea, will only be able to file an appeal against a sentence of more than 24 years.

Fontanez and a second man, Christian Roman, were arrested within two weeks of the Oct. 22-23 break-in. The men broke a store window sometime after the business closed on Oct. 22 and made several trips into the building, taking the guns, ammunition and other property, a prosecutor said in court Monday.

Security cameras captured the suspects on video, but no alarm ever sounded. Owners have said early tests didn't find a cause for that failure, and police have previously said they believe the suspects essentially got lucky.

Roman and Fontanez took the guns with the help of a third person to an apartment in Schenectady and then to a local storage facility, according to court documents.

On Monday, prosecutor Joseph Giovannetti revealed that many of the guns were quickly taken to an apartment in Amsterdam and, from there, to a nearby motel on Route 5S, all with the help of three other individuals.

Roman and Fontanez gave each of those who helped move the weapons three guns as payment, Giovannetti said in court. The remaining guns were then driven to Rochester, he rests have been announced.

Some guns were recovered in Schenectady and others in Rochester, Brian Mein, resident ATF agent in charge, said Monday afternoon. He would not give an exact number of firearms recovered but estimated it was about half of those taken.

None of the guns recovered has been associated with any crimes, Mein said. The serial number of each weapon is in a federal database.

Fontanez pleaded guilty in front of Judge Norman Mordue, who presided via teleconference from Syracuse.

Fontanez' attorney, John Casey, indicated in court that he believed the plea was in his client's best interests. He noted the proof in the case, as well as the nature of the crime and Fontanez' criminal history.

Documents filed in the case indicate investigators found Fontanez' blood on the broken window at the shop and on a security camera there. They matched blood with Fontanez through a previous DNA sample on file due to a prior conviction. Officials have made no similar claim in documents related to Roman.

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