SANTA ANA, California– After conducting surveillance on a suspect in a series of armed robberies that targeted Orange County gas stations, federal agents and local authorities last night arrested a Fontana man on federal charges after he allegedly used what appeared to be a handgun to rob a Chevron station in Stanton.
Cyril Wallace, 49, was arrested in Stanton immediately after the robbery by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) and officers with the Brea Police Department.
After being held in custody overnight, Wallace was charged today in federal court with one count of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery). At his initial appearance in United States District Court this afternoon, Wallace was ordered held without bond and was ordered to appear for an arraignment on October 31.
The criminal complaint charges Wallace with using an “airsoft” pistol last night to rob a Chevron gas station on Beach Boulevard in Stanton. The clerk behind the counter – who was forced to open the cash register after being threatened with a realistic-looking gun – identified Wallace as the robber minutes after he fled with approximately $111 in cash, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint.
A search warrant attached to the complaint shows that Wallace is the suspect in eight other gas station robberies that took place between August 25 and October 6 in the cities of Fullerton, La Habra, Anaheim, Placentia, Westminster and Buena Park. Authorities linked Wallace to the string of robberies after an investigator with the California Lottery identified Wallace in a “wanted” notice issued by the La Habra Police Department.
“Armed robberies victimize businesses, terrorize employees, and create fear in the community,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The case filed today is the result of excellent work by the ATF and local law enforcement agencies partnering to identify and apprehend a suspect believed to be responsible for a string of robberies which heightened anxiety in the community.”
"ATF prioritizes working with our state and local partners to investigate firearms and violent crimes that victimize businesses and endanger the public,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “Offenders cannot hide behind shifting geographic jurisdictions when agencies work in concert.”
According to documents filed in the federal case, Wallace has three prior robbery convictions, each of which led to state prison sentences.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The charge of interference with commerce by robbery carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The case against Wallace is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott D. Tenley.