State

Woman gets 5 years for Modesto restaurant robbery

A woman who helped rob a Modesto Red Lobster restaurant during the dinnertime rush was sentenced to five years in prison this week in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Zulema Tovar, 20, admitted to one count of armed robbery in a January heist that netted less than $400, Deputy District Attorney John Baker said.

Her boyfriend and accomplice, Alejandro Molina, 28, was convicted Friday on two counts of armed robbery and five counts of false imprisonment among other charges. He is awaiting sentencing.

The armed robbery occurred about 7:15 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Red Lobster at 3000 Sisk Road, just south of Standiford Avenue.

The restaurant was crowded with customers during the robbery, but no injuries were reported, police said.

Police said Molina was armed with a shotgun when he walked into the restaurant and demanded money. He ordered employees and customers to lie on the floor and walked around threatening people, at one point sticking the shotgun in a man's face while his terrified family looked on, police said.

The two led police on a chase that ended in a shopping center parking lot near Briggsmore Avenue and Prescott Road.

Molina faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, Baker said.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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