Convicted Burglars in Jewelry Heists Take Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to Court

Three men convicted for burglary in sophisticated jewelry heists are taking the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to court. They contend that assets seized should have gone towards the victims for restitution.
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Dec. 10, 2012 - PRLog -- Temecula, California – In a highly publicized case involving sophisticated jewelry store heists from 2002 to 2004, the case has resurfaced even though the nine men convicted have already done their time and are back on the streets.

Three of the men convicted for their involvement in the burglaries of Schilber’s Fine Jewelry in Temecula and Smoke Tree Jewelers in Palm Springs are now taking the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to court. They argue that the assets seized should be given to the victims for restitution.

The three men hired defense attorney Nic Cocis to represent them, attorney Cocis said the men recently learned that the State Franchise Tax Board ordered them to pay restitution to the victims amounting to several million dollars. The men contend that the assets seized by the District Attorney’s Office should go towards the victims for restitution.

The assets seized amounted to approximately $360,000, and that sum includes cash, along with proceeds from the auctions of the vehicles owned by the defendants.

Cocis said that both the victims and the defendants are requesting the District Attorney’s Office give that money to the victims. Cocis also asserted that the first priority legally for dispensing money recovered from defendants is towards the victims. “My position is that it wasn’t the government’s money in the first place,” said Cocis. Despite Cocis arguments, the representatives from the District Attorney’s Office opposed Cocis’ position and the position of the victims.

Investigators of a string of burglaries were led to the defendants after a cell phone was left behind at the scene of one of the burglaries. After searching the properties of the defendants in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, deputies uncovered evidence linking the men to the burglaries including torches and stolen property. Controlled substances were also recovered at the properties. The searches produced $294,000 in cash and a total of 19 vehicles between the defendants, the majority of which were auctioned off. The investigation culminated into nine arrests and convictions over the next three years.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, in 2004 they served claim forms to the defendants and other individuals who might oppose the forfeitures; however, none of the defendants opposed the forfeitures or submitted claims. The Deputy District Attorney Ronald Lillard said that because the defendants didn’t oppose the forfeitures, they cannot use assets which they consented to be forfeited to the state to pay any liens for restitution.

The defendant’s attorney, Nic Cocis contends the cash and vehicles were seized under the statute that covers the handling of profits for organized crime; he also said that the Attorney General issued an opinion in 1995 stating that the state has a responsibility to use assets in order to offset victims’ losses.

Nic Cocis, on behalf of his clients respectfully requested that the court order the County of Riverside to return the proceeds from the asset forfeitures to Schilber’s Fine Jewelry and Smoke tree Jewelers.

Nic Cocis is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Nic Cocis & Associates, located in Murrieta, California. The firm is 100% devoted to litigation and represents individuals facing all types of criminal charges ranging from assault, to DUI, drug crimes, and murder, and everything in between. The firm serves the areas of Murrieta, Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Corona and Riverside, California. To schedule a consultation with an attorney at the firm, please call (951) 842-2347 or visit the firm’s website online at
Source:Law Office of Nic Cocis & Associates
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