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San Diego man sentenced to five years in prison for robberies

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Posted at 3:20 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:20:56-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A five-year prison sentence was handed down for a San Diego man who robbed two bank branches inside San Diego County supermarkets and a National City shoe store at gunpoint, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Ryan W. Nelson, 38, of San Diego, robbed the Shoe Palace at the Plaza Bonita Mall, a U.S. Bank branch in San Diego and a Wells Fargo branch in La Mesa within a month's time, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Nelson, who pleaded guilty last October, was also ordered to pay $11,572 in restitution to the businesses he robbed when sentenced Wednesday in San Diego federal court.

Prosecutors said the first robbery occurred on July 29, 2019, at the Plaza Bonita Mall, with Nelson approaching a pregnant store clerk, pointing a handgun at her and telling her, "Give me all the money."

He got about $600 in cash from the register and a safe, then told the clerk, "Don't call anyone or I will be back in five minutes," and fled, prosecutors said.

On Aug. 15, 2019, Nelson robbed a U.S. Bank branch inside a Vons supermarket at 6155 El Cajon Blvd. Prosecutors said he approached the teller window while pretending to talk on his cell phone, but was in fact demanding that the teller give him cash, threatening that he would shoot him otherwise.

Nelson made off with about $1,372 and told the teller, "Wait seven minutes, I've got someone in the store," then left.

On Aug. 23, 2019, he robbed the Wells Fargo branch inside the Vons store at 8011 University Ave. and similarly demanded cash from three bank tellers while pretending to use his phone and threatening to shoot people. He received about $9,600 in that robbery, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

FBI agents arrested him less than a week later at his home, where items of clothing were found matching the clothes he wore during one of the bank robberies. A gun matching the one he brandished at the shoe store robbery was also found, in addition to $2,030 in cash.

"These robberies were a terrifying and unforgettable experience for the victims," said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. "Hopefully this sentence will restore a sense of safety to the victims and the community."