The mastermind behind an armed robbery at the IHOP restaurant on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman earlier this year will spend the next four years behind bars.
Bianca L. Santos, 20, of Boardman, appeared Monday for sentencing on one count of robbery before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. She initially had been charged with aggravated robbery with a gun specification but pleaded to the robbery charge in a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Co-defendants in the robbery — Angel M. Cruz II, 23, of Boardman, and Dwayne Lamont Townsend Jr., 22, of Youngstown — also had been charged with aggravated robbery but pleaded guility to reduced charges. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Santos’ attorney Michael Gerchak, and Martin Desmond, an assistant county prosecutor, reached an agreed-upon sentence of three years in prison for Santos, but Judge Krichbaum deemed that prison term insufficient before handing down the four-year term.
According to police, an IHOP employee said two men approached him as he left the Boardman-Poland Road store about 11:40 p.m. April 3, brandished guns and took the night-deposit bag that contained about $300.
An officer who responded to the call made an investigative traffic stop in the area when he saw a vehicle and passengers who matched the suspects’ descriptions.
The officer found the passengers breathing heavily and in plain view saw a deposit bag. A search of the car turned up a handgun and small bag of suspected marijuana. Santos, Townsend and Cruz were taken into custody that night.
The gun used in the robbery later was determined to be a pellet gun.
Santos, a former IHOP employee, was later said to be the one responsible for coming up with the idea to rob the store.
“Even though this is her first offense, this is a serious offense. ... She is the one who came up with the idea, the brains, so to speak,” Desmond said.
Gerchak said that his client, who was tearful during the hearing, is sorry for her role in the crime and has no prior criminal history.
Judge Krichbaum said he was unmoved by Santos’ lack of a prior criminal record and does not consider the fact that the weapon used was determined to be a pellet gun. He said the victim has to live with the mental trauma of the robbery for life.
“What a way to break into the big time,” Judge Krichbaum said. “These other two clowns probably would not have thought of something like this without you. I have no mercy for you.”
The judge also ordered Santos to serve an additional three years’ probation upon her release from prison. She will be given credit for the 146 days she has spent in the county jail.