Teen was suspected 'mastermind' behind armed robbery at father's home

Bay City News
Saturday, June 13, 2015
A 17-year-old boy was the mastermind behind a suspected armed robbery at his father's San Jose home, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney said on Friday, June 12, 2015.
A 17-year-old boy was the mastermind behind a suspected armed robbery at his father's San Jose home, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney said on Friday, June 12, 2015.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A 17-year-old boy was the "mastermind" behind a suspected armed home invasion robbery at his father's home in San Jose's Evergreen neighborhood last month, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney alleged Friday.

Simerjeet Singh was arrested today and arraigned on a felony count of first-degree robbery in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, Deputy District Attorney Madeline Seiff said.

Singh's attorney had asked Judge Deborah Ryan to set his bail at $50,000 citing Singh's youth, his community service at an elderly home and lack of a previous criminal history, but Seiff asked the judge to set his bail at $250,000 due to the potential public safety risk he poses to the victims.

Ryan set Singh's bail at $200,000 and said, "the allegations (against him) are quite serious."

Singh's father, stepmother, mother and sister were in the courtroom during the hearing but declined to speak with reporters outside.

The three other suspects are 17-year-old Moses Perez Herrera, 16-year-old Alvaro Valdivia and 22-year-old Moses Noel Torres, who all face felony and robbery charges with gang enhancements, Seiff said.

All the teens are being charged as adults, she said.

Singh allegedly sought help from the other three suspects, who are suspected Norteno street gang members that he knew from high school, Seiff said.

On May 8 around 11 a.m., Torres allegedly drove Herrera and Valdivia to a home in the 4900 block of Shiloh Place, prosecutors and police said.

Singh was not inside the home and did not live there during the alleged robbery, Seiff said.

Herrera and Valdivia, who was wearing a hood and gloves, allegedly trespassed into the home through an unlocked sliding door, prosecutors said.

The pair allegedly ransacked the first floor of the home, where they armed themselves with kitchen utensils, severed telephone landlines and stole a cellphone, before they went upstairs, according to Seiff.

A woman who lived at the home was upstairs and heard noises. She thought her husband was there, but was confronted by the two suspects, prosecutors said.

The resident hid in a nearby bedroom with another female resident and a 14-month-old baby, who is believed to be Singh's half-sister, according to Seiff.

One of the women tried to keep the door closed but the two suspects allegedly kicked it down, Seiff said.

The force used by the suspects left a hole in the bedroom door, which had a broken lock, she said.

The suspects entered the bedroom and the residents then fled into a bathroom, which had a working lock, according to Seiff.

The suspects attempted to enter the bathroom but fled when they heard the residents were calling police, she said.

The residents were not injured during the incident, Seiff said.

The women were hesitant to open the door for San Jose police, and it took "a lot of coaxing by the officers to even get them to open the door.

They were sobbing hysterically," Seiff said.

The women are family friends of Singh's father, according to Seiff.

Herrera turned himself in on May 13 and investigators found information that led them to Valdivia, who was arrested the next day, police said.

Herrera and Valdivia are being held on $210,000 bail and both face a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison, Seiff said.

Singh and Torres, who has been arrested and booked into jail on $250,000 bail, can be sentenced to 20 years and eight months in prison, she said.

All four defendants are scheduled to appear in court on July 13.