A fake cop who coaxed a movie theater manager to open the safe at the Krikorian Buena Park Metroplex 18 was sentenced Thursday in Santa Ana to seven years in state prison.
Fernando Manuel Ruiz, 40, of Los Angeles, had pleaded guilty in October to multiple felony counts of second degree robbery and false imprisonment by violence or deceit with sentencing enhancements for being armed with a deadly weapon and impersonating a peace officer.
Around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2008, Ruiz walked into the movie theater, asked to see the manager and showed the employee a badge and business card of a Buena Park Police Department investigator. Ruiz said he was investigating a previous robbery and asked the manager to show him the serial numbers on the money inside the safe. After viewing the serial numbers on the cash inside the manager's office, Ruiz stepped outside to make several cell phone calls.
Minutes later, Ruiz returned to the office, pulled out a gun and pointed it at the manager, who was ordered to the ground while the worker's wrists were bound with a telephone cord. A female theater employee then walked in and she, too, was tied up with a computer mouse cord. Before leaving with $7,000 in cash, Ruiz collected the theater's surveillance footage and destroyed it.
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But as investigators would discover, the gunman left latex gloves that provided DNA evidence. In August 2010, as part of a misdemeanor conviction for filing a false vehicle registration, Ruiz had to give up a DNA sample. When that was entered into the crime database, a hit came back for the movie theater robbery from two years before.
If Ruiz had been convicted after pleading not guilty, the maximum punishment he would have faced was 20 years in prison.