On a summer morning in 2015, a Merced County teenager armed himself with a stolen pistol and launched into a daylong crime spree.
When it was over, Moses Mann, a then-17-year-old Los Banos resident with no prior criminal history, had stolen a luxury car, nearly $2,000 in cash and a hammer, which he wielded in a botched jewelry-store burglary at the Merced Mall, authorities reported Friday.
Mann, now 19, pleaded no contest this week to felony counts of carjacking and robbery in connection with the early-morning rampage in Merced and Los Banos, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. He was 17 at the time but was charged as an adult.
A motive for the sudden crime spree remained unclear Friday but authorities said Mann may have owed money to some bad people.
“There are indications this may have been done to pay off some sort of debt,” said Travis Colby, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
His attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, said Mann “expressed great remorse to the victims.”
“This was an extremely difficult situation for Moses and his family,” Tenenbaum said in a telephone interview. “And certainly it was very out of character for him.”
Efforts to reach Mann’s family for comment were unsuccessful Friday.
Mann’s day got underway around 4:30 a.m. Aug. 1, 2015, when he carjacked a man in a Carl’s Jr. parking lot on East Pacheco Boulevard. The 23-year-old victim was eating fast food when he was forced out of his black 2011 BMW 328i at gunpoint by Mann, according to the Los Banos Police Department.
Mann drove the stolen car to Merced a short time later and stole a hammer from a CVS pharmacy at the Merced Mall. He then lied to mall security guards, telling them there was a fist fight happening in the parking lot outside. With the guards distracted, the Los Banos teenager tried to smash a case of jewels and wristwatches at Maciel & Co. next door, but couldn’t get the glass to break, Merced Police Department investigators said.
Video surveillance footage showed Mann leaving the mall parking lot in the same stolen BMW. He drove to the A&M Market at K and West 23rd streets and took about $1,700 in cash from the register at gunpoint. He wore the same clothing during each theft, according to detectives.
Investigators said Mann then drove to San Francisco “to have some fun” for the rest of the day.
Mann eventually returned to Los Banos that night and got drunk. He kept the gun, the cash and the hammer and parked the stolen car on the street, just a few doors down from his home, authorities said.
Detectives set up a surveillance team outside Mann’s home.
Shortly after midnight the following morning, officers spotted Mann getting into the car again and stopped him for questioning, Los Banos Police Detective Sean Bayard confirmed.
Inside Mann’s home, investigators found about $1,300 in cash and a .40-caliber handgun believed to have been used in the robberies. The gun was reported stolen out of Vallejo. Inside the stolen car’s glove box, investigators found the hammer that couldn’t break the jewelry case glass at the Merced Mall, officers said.
Mann pleaded no contest on Monday in Merced County Superior Court before Commissioner Jeanne Schechter to felony counts of carjacking and robbery and admitted using a firearm. Prosecutors dismissed other robbery and burglary charges as part of the plea bargain, according to court records.
He faces more than 17 years in state prison, the shortest possible prison term allowed by law. He won’t be eligible for parole until June of 2029, prosecutors said in a news release. He also was given credit for the two years already served in the Merced County jail.
Anthony Salinas, an 18-year-old Los Banos man also believed to have been involved in the carjacking was arrested, but ultimately wasn’t charged in connection with the case due to a lack of evidence, authorities said.
Colby praised the investigation led by Detective Joe Deliman, a former Merced police officer who recently transferred to the District Attorney’s Office.
“Crimes committed with firearms are treated very seriously by the laws of this state and the police and prosecutors who enforce those laws,” Colby said in the statement.
Deliman said he was glad Mann was taken off the streets.
“If he hadn’t been caught, I’m sure this would’ve continued,” Deliman said Friday.
Mann remains in custody at the Merced County jail. He is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 30.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482