Palo Alto street-robbery suspect could face life

Vilivuni Fono could face 'three strikes' because of past felony convictions

A 21-year-old man suspected of at least two armed street robberies in Palo Alto could face a "three strikes" sentence that could put him behind bars for life if convicted, a Santa Clara County prosecutor said Friday (Jan. 7).

Vilivuni Fono of East Palo Alto faces two robbery charges -- one felony charge each for hold-ups of residents on Oct. 27 and Nov. 5 2010, Deputy District Attorney James Demertzis said. Fono is being held on $100,000 bail in Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose.

If convicted on all counts under three-strikes Fono would face 25 years to life, he said.

Court documents show that Fono was previously convicted when a juvenile of carjacking and making criminal threats, both felonies.

The U.S. Supreme Court in April 2010 upheld the authority of California judges to count felony convictions of juveniles as strikes when determining if an adult felon should be sentenced to life in prison.

In California, if the adult was convicted of a serious or violent crime when 16 or 17 it can be considered a strike.

Demertzis said he could not comment on whether Fono has a prior criminal history.

Fono and another as-yet-unidentified male allegedly approached a man as he was entering his Fulton Street apartment complex on Oct. 27. One of the men is alleged to have pulled out a small-caliber handgun and pointed it at the victim's stomach.

The two men allegedly robbed the victim in the complex's lobby, taking his iPad, a gold and jade necklace, a messenger bag, wallet and earphones, police reported. The victim identified Fono as the gunman in a photo lineup, according to the police report.

During the Nov. 5 robbery, Fono and a 16-year-old juvenile male allegedly approached a man on Forest Avenue near downtown Pslo Alto. They allegedly took the man's wallet after pointing a gun at the victim and pistol-whipping him.

The victim sustained a swollen black eye. He later identified the juvenile suspect as the one who held the gun and pistol-whipped him, according to the police report.

The juvenile has admitted his part in the Nov. 5 robbery, according to a police report. He led police to a black replica 6 mm Airsoft Desert Eagle pistol hidden outside his family home, the report stated.

Fono's girlfriend, Ana Loiloi Umufuke, 24, also of East Palo Alto, is charged with one count of robbery -- she was arrested Nov. 23.

She has admitted to being the driver of the getaway car, a red 2003 Dodge Durango, according to police reports. Umufuke has denied she knew what the two males were doing, officers wrote.

Fono is scheduled to appear in court in Palo Alto on Jan. 14; Umufuke is scheduled to appear on Jan. 26.

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Like this comment
Posted by homegirl
a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Sorry Fono, you are the new poster boy for young 25-lifers.
Take heed young thugs, you think your time here is short--only on the outside.
THIS, hopefully is the "deterrent" part of Punishment that has never come to light. Perhaps finally, now it will.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2011 at 12:41 am

It seems as if we have created so many criminal and anti-social people in society and the world these days that those who are or want strive to be good are so overwhelmed by having to deal with them in so many ways.

I think there are certain things that when people do they show that they are not fit to live among civilized people. Like the guy who kidnaped and raped and then slammed that girls head against the concrete in Palo Alto ... it is a insult to all people to allow these people multiple chances in society.

Harsh as that may seem, and I know there is no good way to measure it or determine sometimes, but there are some you just know when you read about.

I don't think it is unreasonable to characterize someone who decides that a lifestyle of robbing other people by threatening them with violence, injury and possibly death as not fit to live with human beings in the world. I don't believe in solitary confinement or inhumane conditions, but such people should be put in a safe clean minimal environment and given chances to do something positive, but the rest of us need to always consider such people will sometimes anything to get another chance to express their evil in the world.

Like this comment
Posted by Maya
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Sorry to hear that you threw your life away. You had a second chance, way back when, lots of people saw to that. I really believed in you and thought you would make something of yourself. Guess I was wrong, in the biggest way. Robbing people? Really? Who gave you the stupid pills and when? DId you ever picture any of us who cared about you as you were terrifying people and stealing their belongings? Did it ever occur to you that you were hurting people? I remember the sweet boy with a big smile, but he's gone, replaced by a thug in a mug shot. People will hear your name now and think "Thank God they got that creep off the streets." If there is a shred of the old you left, do your family a favor and try to let the little ones know that following in your footsteps will only lead to life in prison.

Like this comment
Posted by joey
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

joey is a registered user.

If convicted he deserves life in prison.

Like this comment
Posted by Richard Clark
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2011 at 8:29 am

Richard Clark is a registered user.

A quick thank you to "Maya, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood" for such a thoughtful and sincere comment.

Richard Clark

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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