David Mitchell
JUL 26, 2016 - 9:30 PM

GONZALES A Honduran man convicted of stealing cars and SUVs broken down on Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and then towing them away for sale at a scrap yard was sentenced to three years in prison.

An Ascension Parish jury found Edwar A. Soto, 36, 2730 Tifton St., Kenner, guilty in late April of three counts of automobile theft in March and April 2014.

Judge Thomas Kliebert Jr., of the 23rd Judicial District, noted he took into consideration Soto's prior criminal history and that he was "persistently" involved in similar thefts in addition to a criminal record when he sentenced him.

Soto was previously convicted of aggravated burglary, and at his trial, Kliebert also allowed prosecutors to present evidence of other alleged vehicle thefts over defense objections.

In court papers, prosecutors accused him of using a U-Haul tow trailer to take five other vehicles on or near I-10 during the same period as the thefts for which he was convicted in Ascension Parish. Those five thefts allegedly happened in LaPlace, Gramercy, Kenner, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Prosecutors have since said Soto is facing charges in other parishes.

Kliebert also noted in his sentencing decision that Soto had been "residing illegally" in the United States and was a fugitive from an outstanding immigration warrant.

Kliebert handed down the sentence Monday at the Ascension Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales as a translator told Soto the judge's ruling. Kliebert gave Soto three years on each count and allowed them to run concurrent to one another.

Soto had faced as many as 15 years in prison for the three counts.

Bryan Cox, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Orleans, said Tuesday that his agency has issued an immigration detainer against Soto, meaning after he finishes his sentence in Louisiana, he will be picked up by ICE for possible deportation.

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rou...885ab794b.html