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THIRD ROBBER SENTENCED IN VIOLENT HOLDUP

Omar Santos, who claimed he was high on drugs during the violent holdup of a Niagara Street fast-food restaurant on Sept. 11, 2003, was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in prison. He had pleaded guilty Jan. 13 to first-degree robbery.

Santos, 23, a Puerto Rican immigrant, was captured moments after the holdup in which three people were shot. State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia imposed sentence.

Santos declined to comment, but Andrew C. LoTempio and Betty Calvo-Torres, his court-assigned attorneys, told the judge he was high on drugs and just went along for a ride with Luis Ayala and Luis Ocasio, his accomplices in the holdup, who are currently serving prison sentences.

LoTempio said Santos entered the McDonald's at 2196 Niagara to use the rest room, unaware that Ayala and Ocasio were trying to rob the restaurant at gunpoint.

Santos denies shooting at any of the victims or being involved in the robbery, LoTempio said.

On March 29, Buscaglia sentenced Ayala, 38, who lived with Santos on Elmwood Avenue, to spend 25 years in prison on his robbery plea and for his plea in a Baynes Avenue burglary four years ago.

Last May 10, Buscaglia sentenced Ocasio, 28, of Hudson Street, to 15 years in prison on his plea to a reduced charge of attempted robbery.

Prosecutor Michael J. McHale said the three bandits shot two patrons and an employee at McDonald's before fleeing without any money.

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