|3 Charged in Fake Bomb Bank Heist|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||May 20, 2013, 3:20 PM|
Three men have been arrested and charged in a strange Los Angeles bank robbery in which the men allegedly strapped what they said were explosives to a bank manager's stomach and ordered her to rob her own bank.
One of the men was the bank manager's boyfriend, according to the federal indictment released today.
The robbers made off with about $565,500 and police later determined that the device, though convincing, was a fake.
The three men--Ray Vega, Richard Menchaca and Bryan Perez--were charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, bank robbery and aiding and abetting.
Vega was the bank manager's boyfriend, according to a federal indictment. The bank manager is only identified as A.B. in a legal document.
Vega allegedly formulated the plan to rob the Bank of America where "one of his girlfriends" was the assistant branch manager, according to the indictment. Menchaca and Perez were to go the bank to examine its layout and the surrounding area.
"On the day of the bank robbery, defendant Vega would arrange for A.B. to go to the bank wearing an item resembling an explosive device to make it appear that A.B. was a hostage in a bank robbery and the purported explosive device would detonate unless an employee at the bank helped A.B. remove money from the bank's vault," the indictment stated.
The bank manager, A.B., has not been charged but police were vague about her possible involvement.
At a news conference, Huntington Park Police Chief Jorge Cisneros was asked whether she would be charged. He would only say that the suspects were not being charged with kidnapping, according to ABC News' Los Angeles station KABC.
The woman was allegedly abducted on the night of Sept. 4 and held overnight, according to ABC News' Los Angeles affiliate KABC. She was taken to the Bank of America in East L.A. on the 900 block of South Atlantic Boulevard where she worked around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2012 and instructed to rob it.
A device was strapped to her, she went into the bank, got the money out and threw it out the door to the bandits, according to police. The men fled with the money and the bank manager was left with the device on her. Bomb technicians responded to the scene and the device was removed from the woman. It was detonated by a bomb robot, but later determined not to be an explosive.
Menchaca allegedly gave the money stolen from the bank to Perez who met Vega at a hotel where they split the proceeds, according to the indictment.
Vega was taken into custody a week later for conspiracy and robbery but posted bail and was released. He was re-arrested over the weekend.
Investigators say the money has not been recovered and are asking for the public's help because they think there are others who have information about the crime, according to KABC. Bank of America is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of additional suspects in the case.
Authorities are asking anyone with information is to call (888) CANT-HIDE.