ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Four people are in custody, facing various charges after they allegedly beat and robbed an illegal immigrant. The man came forward to report the crime, and sheriff’s deputies say they’re glad he did.
The victim is Sergio Vega, 48. On October 28, he stopped at a gas station in Athens. His head was bleeding, and the attendants called for help. A translator arrived, and learned Vega had quite a story to tell.
According to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, Vega said Tabita Berzett called him to her residence, at Owens Apartments, located at 20575 Todd Circle, several miles north of Athens.
Berzett allegedly told him she needed a ride to the store to buy groceries. The two were neighbors in the past.
Sheriff’s investigators say two people were waiting for Vega when he arrived — Robert Montez Taylor and a neighbor, Cody Vibbert. Taylor is Berzett’s live-in boyfriend. Investigators say the two men beat Vega with a baseball bat Vibbert also hit him with his fists. They also stole $3,000 from Vega.
Investigators say Vega had been saving the money from construction jobs and planned to wire it back to his family in Mexico.
Vega left the apartment and drove away, and then went to the gas station for help.
Investigators were called to the scene, but the suspects had left. According to Investigator Leslie Ramsey, they returned a while later from a shopping spree. They had new jackets, shoes, and XBox 360 and other items. Montez and Berzett also bought engagement rings at Wal-Mart while they were gone. They had also eaten at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Investigators arrested Montez, Vibbert and Berzett when they returned. They had spent all but $700, which was hidden under an air conditioning unit outside of the apartment.
The three suspects are charged with the following:
- Tabitha Berzett – First-degree robbery; bond set at $20,000
- Cody Vibbert – First-degree robbery, second-degree assault; bond set at $25,000
- Robert Montez Taylor – first degree robbery, second-degree assault; bond set at $25,000
Sirena Kay Pugh, 38, and her juvenile son are charged with hindering prosecution. They are neighbors, and investigators say they allowed the suspects to hide merchandise in their attic. They also allegedly helped wash and throw away bloody bed sheets.
Vega was dragged into a bedroom and assaulted. Investigators say Pugh tried to wash the bedding, but bagged it up and told her son to get rid of it. The son tossed the items in the river at Grigsby Ferry in Elkmont.
Vega was taken to Athens Limestone Hospital, where he was treated. He is recovering. Authorities say Vega was targeted because he is an illegal immigrant, and the suspects didn’t believe he would report the crime.