Tampa man, 25, gets 30-year sentence for Hernando County robberies

BROOKSVILLE — A Tampa man was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for his role in a pair of robberies nearly two years ago that led to a police chase through Spring Hill.

Michael Cardona, 25, and two other men were accused of robbing the Hampton Inn at 1344 Commercial Way and a home in Spring Hill on Jan. 17, 2008.

Cardona was convicted in October on charges of home invasion robbery and strong-arm robbery. Prosecutors pushed for a lengthy sentence for Cardona, using a statute that requires a maximum mandatory sentence of 30 years for offenders who commit a first-degree felony within three years of their most-recent release from state prison.

In 2005, Cardona was sentenced to more than two years in state prison after conviction on burglary and grand theft charges.

Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing "really had no choice." Barbee added that Cardona "had been a thorn in the side of Hernando County for many years."

Cardona's 15-page arrest record includes counts of battery, hit-and-run, vehicle theft, marijuana possession, and fleeing and eluding police.

According to reports, Cardona and the other two men assaulted a hotel clerk and stole a safe holding $125. The men later pistol-whipped a 22-year-old man at his home and took about $600.

Deputies arrested Leo Johnson III, and then saw Osvaldo Rojas and Cardona fleeing. They caught Cardona four days later, and Rojas surrendered a week after that.

Rojas was sentenced to two 54-month prison terms, to be served concurrently, in May 2008. Johnson received a four-year term for his role.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Joel Anderson can be reached at (352) 754-6120 or joelanderson@sptimes.com.

Tampa man, 25, gets 30-year sentence for Hernando County robberies 11/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2009 6:31pm]

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