Friday, Aug. 16, 2002 | 11:26 a.m.
Jose Vigoa, long believed to be the mastermind behind a series of daring casino robberies and the deaths of two armored truck drivers, received four no-parole life sentences this morning plus an additional 306 to 760 years in prison.
District Judge Kathy Hardcastle sentenced Vigoa on 46 criminal counts as the result of a plea agreement Vigoa entered to avoid the possibility of the death penalty.
Vigoa received four no-parole life terms for the murders of the armored truck guards, who were gunned down in front of the Ross Dress for Less store in Henderson. He then received maximum prison sentences for a range of charges pertaining to the robberies, with Hardcastle stacking the sentences as called for in the plea agreement.
In designing the plea agreement, prosecutors wanted to ensure that Vigoa would never leave prison, even if his convictions in the slayings were to be overturned upon appeal.
Before Hardcastle rendered her sentence, she heard from both Vigoa and Gary Prestidge Sr., the father of one of the men Vigoa killed.
"First of all I would like to apologize for what I have done," Vigoa said. "I accept responsibility for what I have done but I can't change the past. ... I wish that justice be done."
Vigoa, 42, pleaded guilty in June just days before he was to go to trial for the March 2000 shooting deaths of Richard Sosa, 47, and Gary Dean Prestidge II, 23, and robberies at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and Desert Inn.
Prestidge's father said he wants everyone to know his son was a "good boy" who respected human life and who was simply trying to make a living.
"I just hope these people, this man, never gets a chance to hurt another family," Prestidge said. "He not only killed my son, he's killed me, too. How can people take someone's life who they don't even know, who wouldn't hurt no one? I will never know."
Chief Deputy District Attorney David Roger said he didn't believe Vigoa's words of remorse.
"All I could think of was Gary Prestidge Sr. and those words of remorse rang hollow," Roger said.
Deputy Public Defender Drew Christensen said Vigoa has readily admitted his culpability since the plea agreement was signed.
"I was glad that he showed remorse and he said he was remorseful today in court," Christensen said.
Vigoa's plea agreement was signed just two weeks after Vigoa was charged in connection with an alleged jail escape attempt.
Jail officials said Vigoa used a metal mirror frame to chisel a hole into his cell window. They theorized that Vigoa intended to drop from his cell to a jail sally port 30 feet below, then another 20 feet to the ground.
Just prior to that, Roger had also asked Hardcastle to allow into evidence a statement made by Oscar Sanchez Cisneros that implicated Vigoa in all of the crimes.
Cisneros, 23, committed suicide in the Clark County Detention Center four months after he and Vigoa were arrested in connection with the Bellagio heist, which netted almost $200,000 in June 2000.
Vigoa's brothers-in-law, Pedro Duarte and Luis Suarez, are awaiting trial on robbery charges as well. Duarte is suspected of assisting Vigoa in the Desert Inn robbery while Suarez is accused of helping Vigoa in the Bellagio robbery.
Vigoa only signed his plea agreement after a clause was added indicating prosecutors could not force him to testify against Duarte and Suarez.
Prosecutors also agreed not to pursue any further charges against Vigoa's family for perjury and have asked the federal government not to press charges against Vigoa or his wife for bankruptcy fraud. The U.S. Attorney's office had been pursuing the fraud charges.