Student gets 60 years for Maryland poker game robbery

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

A Gaithersburg man who had earned a scholarship to Georgetown University was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in prison for the 2011 armed robbery of a poker game at a College Park apartment.

In September, 24-year-old Sergio Hernandez was convicted in Prince George's County Circuit Court of 52 of the 53 counts against him in September. The charges included robbery with a deadly weapon, first- and second-degree assault and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.

The robbery took place in August 2011 near the Ikea in College Park, at an apartment where a poker game was being held.

Hernandez and a co-conspirator took cellphones, cash and other property from at least nine people. The victims were told to lie on the ground and take their pants off during the robbery, and some of them were pistol-whipped, officials said.

"[Victims] were traumatized by the events," said prosecutor Michael Wallace.

During Thursday's hearing, Hernandez's lawyer, Gary Gerstenfield, asked the judge for leniency, calling his client "salvageable" because of his academic talent.

At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was a few credits away from earning his associate's degree at Montgomery College and had been offered a scholarship to attend Georgetown University, Gerstenfield said.

"I know that I have potential," Hernandez the judge Thursday. He also offered "an apology first and foremost to the victims."

Judge Maureen Lamasney acknowledged that Hernandez is intelligent, but also noted that one of the purposes of sentences is to deter the community from engaging in similar actions.

"There was violence ... that was gratuitous," Lamasney said.

Per Hernandez's request, Lamasney said she would recommend that he serve his time at the Patuxent Institution, which offers educational opportunities.

The first five years of Hernandez's sentence are mandatory, and he could be eligible for parole in about 30 years, according to John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.

The other robber remains unidentified, and two additional people who were involved in planning the robbery have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the incident.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner