Former Iron Cross Tattoo owner Pablo Sela — arrested last March for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of antique guns, ivory pieces, Chumash baskets, and Nazi memorabilia from the next-door antique shop, Collector’s Corner — was sentenced Monday to five years in state prison after he pleaded to charges of receiving stolen property and elder abuse.
Over the course of several months early last year, Sela stole hundreds of antiques from a locked storage room outside of Collector’s Corner located in a light pink building on the corner of Anacapa and Ortega Streets. A 50-year-old native of Spain, Sela had rented space for his tattoo parlor for about 17 years from the 83-year-old man who owned the eclectic antique shop.
In the past few years, the owner’s health had deteriorated considerably, and the shop had not been open much. A follow-up police investigation found Sela was selling the stolen items on eBay and, according to the victim’s family, priced them at much less than they were worth. It’s unclear how much Sela received in sales profits or what he spent the money on, but prosecuting attorney Brian Cota said methamphetamine was recovered from his tattoo parlor and that he was a drug user.
In part because the price of antiques are fluid, the value of the stolen goods is difficult to pinpoint, but restitution was determined to be $500,000, an amount Sela will have to pay 10 percent interest on. In court on Monday, public defender Mindi Boulet asked Judge Clifford Anderson to consider reducing the interest rate. By the time he gets out of prison, the interest alone could be about $100,000, she said. “He owns a tattoo shop,” Boulet said, adding he has four children and will be likely be paying restitution for the rest of his life. Anderson said that the interest amount seemed exorbitant, but he determined that the law does not give him discretion in changing it.
In custody on Monday, Sela told the court his elderly landlord treated him well and he admitted that he had betrayed his trust. “Not a day goes by that I don’t feel ashamed and remorse for my actions,” Sela said, adding he hoped the owner and his family could find it in their hearts to forgive him.
Sela was on an ICE hold and it’s unclear if he will face deportation upon being released from prison, which will likely be in less than a year. He currently has two years of custody credit for his time served in County Jail.