A 22-year-old New Bedford man who, with his girlfriend’s assistance, set up unsuspecting men via dating websites and then robbed them once they came to meet with the woman, was sentenced to serve up to four years in state prison, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.
Luis Santos pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court to indictments charging him with three counts of armed robbery.
This defendant, and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Kerstyn Gross, posted her photo and created a dating profile for her on various websites. On at least three separate occasions, this defendant would like in wait while his girlfriend would meet with men from the dating websites and then rob them at knifepoint.
The first reported incident occurred on January 31, 2019 in Dartmouth. The victim met Kerstyn Gross on a website called “Meet me.” He conversed with her on Facebook and Instagram, and they decided to meet for a date. Defendant Gross picked the victim up at his residence in her vehicle. While driving, she pretended to have a flat tire and stopped the vehicle. A male party, later identified as Defendant Santos, jumped out of the woods with a knife and robbed the victim. The defendant then entered into the vehicle with the co-defendant and fled the scene, leaving the victim stranded with no cash or cell phone. None of the stolen items were ever recovered from this incident.
The second reported incident occurred on December 28, 2019 in New Bedford. The male victim met Defendant Gross on “Meet me” and was directed to meet her at Tallman Street residential address in the North End of New Bedford. The victim did not feel comfortable to go to that location so he asked her to meet him at a Dunkin’ Donuts. When he went to that location, Defendant Santos approached him with a machete and robbed him. Some of the property stolen during this incident was eventually recovered by police.
The third reported incident occurred on December 30, 2019 in New Bedford. The male victim met Defendant Gross on Plentyoffish.com. She arranged to meet him at the same Tallman Street residential address. When the victim arrived, he immediately recognized Defendant Gross from her profile photo. After exchanging greetings, she invited the victim inside the home, at which point Defendant Santos emerged, armed with a large knife. The victim was robbed of cash, a cellphone, and a watch.
Defendant Gross pleaded guilty in New Bedford District Court last September to charges of larceny from a person. She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in the Bristol County House of Corrections, with one year to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended for three years. She was also ordered to undergo mental health counseling and to stay away from the co-defendant and the victims.
Defendant Santos, who has an extensive criminal record despite his young age, was sentenced by Fall River Superior Court Judge Sharon Donatelle to a two-and-a-half to four-year state prison term. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Friedel.
At the time of Defendant Santos’s arrest, he was already awaiting final disposition on a separate open case from 2017, where he was charged in New Bedford District Court with Possess with Intent to Distribute a Class B drug.
“It is no surprise that the defendant set up a scam to violently rob the victims. He has a history of violent conduct and was on release for dealing drugs when he committed this crime. He needs to be locked up to protect the public.,” District Attorney Quinn said.