A federal jury has convicted the leader of a gang of thieves linked to a robbery spree that included the November 2005 heist of $4 million to $5 million in diamonds from a wholesaler on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan’s Diamond District.

This story first appeared in the December 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Hector Rivera, 57, was found guilty Monday on one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery or attempted robbery and two counts of using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

Each robbery charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, prosecutors said. The first firearm charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and the second carries a minimum sentence of 25 years. Rivera must serve any prison time on the weapons convictions consecutively to other minimum sentences, prosecutors said.

Rivera’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

During a one-week trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors said Rivera was the leader of the gang that carried out a succession of robberies. Fourteen other suspects were also arrested and their cases await disposition.

The robbers planned two unsuccessful holdups of Federal Express trucks they thought contained millions of dollars worth of diamonds in 2007 and 2008, prosecutors said. In the first, gunmen hijacked the truck and its driver but could not access the tractor-trailer’s contents. FBI agents, working with cooperating witnesses, arrested the conspirators in December 2008 before they could attempt the second robbery.

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