Two more defendants convicted for “Operation Vicious Circle”

By | September 14, 2023

Sept. 13: Two more men were sentenced Wednesday in connection with Operation Vicious Cycle, an investigation into numerous bicycle thefts and burglaries across the Front Range since 2019.

Salvador Mena-Barreno, 50, was sentenced to 250 hours of community service during a four-year probation period after pleading guilty to criminal mischief $100,000 to $1 million and theft $20,000 to $100,000.

The Attorney General’s Office dismissed 13 counts of felony theft and 14 counts of second-degree burglary, largely due to Mena-Barreno’s involvement in selling stolen bicycles rather than shoplifting of bicycles.

Maurice Leday, 23, was sentenced to twelve years in the Colorado Department of Corrections and will receive nearly two years of credit for time already served.

Leday previously entered a guilty plea to violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, second-degree burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle, all felonies.

The charges stem from an investigation into a string of crimes involving 29 bike shop burglaries, 22 auto thefts and multiple attempted burglaries and thefts from Fraser to the Denver metro area from December 2019 to June 2020 .

According to the statement, the men planned the thefts using Facebook Messenger. In groups of up to four, the men would steal a van or van and slam it into the front doors or windows of a bicycle shop or break the front windows with large landscaping rocks or other tools.

Police said the men then stole high-end mountain bikes and moved the stolen goods to be sold outside the country, possibly in Mexico.

In his nearly two-hour sentencing hearing, the prosecutor talked about the number of burglaries Leday participated in, the planned nature of each burglary and the duration of the burglaries.

The prosecution asked the court to impose a 24-year prison sentence. Prosecutors from the attorney general’s office said Leday could not be supervised on probation or community liaison and said his decision to participate in the “crime spree” was “conscious and deliberate.”

In response, Leday’s defense team focused on his background, including instability in his childhood, race and ethnicity, and lack of criminal record.

“He wants to take responsibility,” defense attorney Jim Zorilla said. “He does not deny the significant cost to the community or the number of victims. I believe giving him the opportunity to seek treatment is the right step forward.”

Both legal teams called other people to the stand, including the owner of a bike shop that Leday broke into and some of Leday’s family members.

“I could get him some jobs and I could help him,” said Leday’s cousin, Daisa Armijo. “He doesn’t just have two people in our community and church, I know a lot of people who would like to help him. I feel like he deserves another chance.”

Doug Shuck, the owner of Cars Remember When in Englewood, spoke about the broad impact the thefts have had on local businesses.

“The first five years (of business) were difficult because of my experience, COVID-19 and, obviously, the major break-ins that we talked about today,” Schuck said. “In April 2020, our facility was broken into and I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was impenetrable. No vehicles were stolen, but the extent of the damage was incredible to me.”

Schuck said the repair took six months and cost the company $10,000 out of pocket.

The defendants reportedly stole $985,000 in bicycles and $258,000 in vehicles, causing $231,837 in property damage.

Six businesses were robbed in Boulder County, including Boulder Cycle Sport in Boulder, Redstone Cyclery in Lyons and Cenna Custom Cycles in Longmont.

Boulder District Judge Nancy Salomone said she considered mitigating factors including Leday’s family – which includes a longtime girlfriend and a two-year-old daughter – and his unstable childhood and adolescence.

“You have a lot of life ahead of you,” Solomon told Leday. “You will come out of prison as a young man and I hope and trust that you will find access to rehabilitation. These are things you have done but that is not who you are.”

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