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Luis Cortez has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a 2007 home invasion in Garden City that saw one resident tied up while another was forced at gunpoint to open safes in the home.

A jury convicted Cortez, 32, of the Bronx, of second-degree robbery in November.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that on Sept. 14, 2007, Cortez acted as the driver for a group of armed robbers that approached the victim as he headed for his car at approximately 6:25 a.m. They led the victim back into the home at gunpoint and tied up a female victim who was in the home, ordering her to lie face down on her bed. The male victim was forced to open a basement safe that contained cash and assorted jewelry and a second safe on the top floor of the house that contained assorted jewelry and rare coins.

The robbers made off with approximately $50,000 worth of cash, coins and jewelry, Rice said.

A suspicious neighbor took down a partial license plate number and make and model of the vehicle, eventually leading to the arrests of three suspects.

In addition to Cortez, who was arrested May 2, 2008, two other men have been charged. Cruz Mateo, 24, of the Bronx was also arrested May 2, 2008, and pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary. He is awaiting sentencing. Domingo Ulloa, 36, of the Bronx was arrested Sept. 20, 2007 and is awaiting trial. The investigation is ongoing.

"Our homes are meant to be sanctuaries from the dangers of the outside world, but Mr. Cortez and his associates stole more than money from this family. They stole their peace of mind," Rice said. "Those who terrorize us in our homes must pay a steep price, and Mr. Cortez will now pay his."


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