SALINAS — 55-year-old James Kevin Johnson of Los Angeles, one of the suspects in a million-dollar jewelry heist back in 2013, entered a guilty plea to six counts of armed robbery at his arraignment in Monterey County Court on July 14.
It was only about a month into 2013 when Johnson and another associate entered the Hesselbein Jewelry Store in Carmel by posing as PG&E employees investigating a gas leak. The two went in through the back and, once they had the owner and three of his employees alone, drew handguns and ordered everyone to the floor. They then proceeded to bind their captives with duct tape and zip ties.
Two customers who had the misfortune of entering the store as the robbery was underway were also taken to the back and bound.
Johnson and his associate then proceeded to empty the display cases of watches and rings, but decided to rob their captives as well. The estimated cost in stolen items totaled to well over 1 million dollars.
The two then fled, and the crime went unsolved for nearly a year.
However, as luck would have it, Johnson’s DNA was found on a roll of duct tape that was left at the scene, as well as a partial fingerprint on a clipboard.
One of the victims, despite not being able to identify Johnson’s face, was able to identify his voice from a recorded interview. Johnson is due for sentencing by Monterey County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta in September.
If convicted, he faces 15 to 25 years in prison.