Man accused of stealing woman's car has similar prior convictions

Updated: Aug. 17, 2018 at 11:41 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The man accused of stealing a woman's car after telling her she had a flat tire was convicted of similar offenses in the past.

That's why authorities are taking a deep dive into Nelson Ortega's criminal history as they make their case in court on the new felony charges he faces.

"Mr. Ortega has prior convictions for similarly charged offenses," said Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor. "Part of what we do is look at the history of the individual."

Ortega is the man accused of taking a woman's car at Stony Point Mall after he told her she had a flat tire this week.

In 2009, Ortega was convicted of cocaine possession and pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted grand larceny/carjacking in addition to two counts of robbery.

In total, the convictions came with seven years of prison time.

Now he's been charged grand larceny and other crimes related to the mall carjacking.

"It is always concerning for investigators and prosecutors when we see someone engaging in repeat behavior," Taylor said. "For the public safety, one of the things we want to make sure is that when we see someone engaging in similar conduct (is) trying to figure out why that is. Is it something where the ease of the particular defense is something that is known to the defendant?"

Taylor is not commenting on the current investigation and whether Ortega could face a stiffer penalty as a potential repeat offender.

"We do the best job we can to research the entire individual, not just for what they have done today but to also look at their background," Taylor said.

Ortega was booked in jail Tuesday. His next hearing is in three months.

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