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Ivy League Arrestee Says: ‘I Did the Crime, I’ll Do the Time’

July 11, 1987

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A young man who won a Harvard scholarship with straight-A high school grades and hoped to be a lawyer says he feels no remorse for a series of armed robberies committed during school vacations.

″I wasn’t taking money from anybody that really, really needed it,″ Jose Luis Razo Jr., 20, said during a jailhouse interview Friday. ″I did the crime, I’ll do the time.″

The Harvard sophomore is charged with eight counts of armed robbery for holdups at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants in the Orange County area. He also is charged with one count of attempted escape.

Police say the so-called ″ski-mask bandit″ robberies all occurred during Harvard’s vacation breaks.

Razo was recruited by dozens of the nation’s top universities after he graduated high school with straight A’s in 1985. He was a member of the La Habra Boys Club and was active in the community, regularly visiting convalescent homes and children’s hospital wards.

The former gang member with working-class family roots was studying psychology and planned to be a lawyer.

However, he said at the Orange County Jail: ″At Harvard, I didn’t fit. I was confused. ... No one understood me.″

″I was torn between having to be over there and wanting to be here,″ he said. ″I didn’t want to be over there. Why would I want to be in Boston?″

Razo said he used the money from the robberies to help his poor family and needy friends, and for plane fare to Boston and back.

″I needed the money and that was a way to get it,″ he said. ″I did 15 robberies, averaged $2,000 each, and I gave most of the money away.″

″I don’t regret them,″ he said of the robberies, smiling. ″No one ever got hurt. ... Besides, I helped a lot of people. ... Whenever people came to me in need, I could help them out.″

But family members denied they saw any of the money.

″That’s ridiculous,″ said his sister Cecilia, 19.

″My mom always sent him money,″ said sister Martha, 21. ″She wouldn’t pay bills to send him money.″

Razo said his only regret was talking to police about the string of robberies Tuesday after claiming he had information about the murder of a 9- year-old Santa Ana girl. The murder information was false, police say, but La Habra police Detective Bob Wyse reportedly got a confession from Razo on the robberies.

″If I had to do it over, I’d do it over,″ Razo said. ″I just wouldn’t talk to that one guy.″

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