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Parolees Charged in Barona Casino and Fashion Valley Robberies

Two men are in custody for a series of "high risk" armed robberies throughout California.

Robbery and arson charges were filed Monday against two parolees suspected in a series of "high-risk'' armed robberies throughout California, including one at a Fashion Valley jewelry store and another at the Barona Casino.

Robert Chavira, 40, and Ryan Alan McKnight, 34, were each ordered held
in lieu of $5 million bail.

The defendants were supposed to be arraigned Monday, but the proceeding
was put off until Dec. 12, when more charges and possibly more arrests are
expected to be announced.

Deputy District Attorney Rick Clabby told Judge David Szumowski that
Chavira and McKnight were involved in five "high-risk'' armed robberies in
Costa Mesa, Mission Valley, San Jose, Palm Desert and at the Barona Casino.

On Aug. 2, the armed defendants used sledgehammers to steal hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of watches from a Costa Mesa store, Clabby alleged.

On Sept. 12, the armed defendants drove down a walkway at the Fashion
Valley mall and used sledgehammers to break display cases and steal high-end
Rolex watches from the Ben Bridge store, the prosecutor alleged.

Chavira and McKnight used the same tactic to steal Rolex watches from a
high-end jewelry store in San Jose on Oct. 15, Clabby told the judge.

Nine days later, the defendants—armed and wearing masks—allegedly
stole more than $1 million in Rolex watches from a store in Palm Desert.

Clabby said the defendants changed their method of operation when they
allegedly stole $60,000-$70,000 from a glass case at the Barona Casino on Nov.
2.

The defendants set fire to a house next to the casino to draw firefighters and authorities away from the business, the prosecutor alleged.

Clabby alleged that Chavira and McKnight tied a chain to the back of a vehicle and ripped out a glass case containing the cash.

A video shows McKnight buying gas before the fire was set, the prosecutor said.

When the defendants were arrested a week later, gear used to commit robberies was found in their hotel room, Clabby said.

—City News Service report.

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