Archie Cabello was living a quiet life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, working as an armed courier who delivered money to banks and businesses all over town, when he hatched a plan that would change his family’s life forever.
From 1995 to 2005, Cabello used his wife and son as accomplices to steal nearly $4 million.
It was a case that would leave the FBI and authorities in two states scratching their heads for more than a decade, until the IRS became involved and discovered a suspicious paper trail and Cabello’s son, Vincent, finally came forward.
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According to federal prosecutors, Archie Cabello committed a Detroit robbery in the 1970s with his brother and then left town without giving his brother his cut of the money.
In 1995, FBI special agent Ken O’Connor said Cabello was a 48-year-old former Marine working for an armored delivery services company and decided to plan another robbery.
“The two people he was assigned with were, one had been on the job for a week, the other had been on the job for two weeks, so he was the senior guy,” O’Conner said.
For several days leading up to the heist, authorities said Cabello and his wife Marian Cabello practiced a routine. She would leave her job at a local café, seemingly on a lunch break, go for drive, park the car and watch for her husband’s armored truck to drive past.
Then one day, the FBI said Archie Cabello hit the hazard lights on the truck, and Marian pulled out of her parking spot and followed him to a strip mall where Cabello was scheduled to make a stop at a bank.
“He’s on paperwork showing he signed for the bag at 12:30 [p.m.], a bag that had about $157,000, give or take,” O’Connor said.
As the other two couriers were on a break, authorities said Cabello pulled the truck around to the back of the bank and parked next to Marian’s car, who was waiting there.
“He opened the driver door, tossed the bag into her open window, onto the passenger side seat and they both drive off,” O’Connor said.
When his bosses asked Cabello what happened to the money, he claimed he didn’t know. The other two couriers, who authorities said had no idea the money had been stolen, also said they didn’t know what happened.
Cabello was fired and the Milwaukee police and the FBI investigated the incident, but neither could pin down a suspect nor find the money.
“At the time, there wasn’t a lot of evidence, other than, you know, his story,” O’Connor said.
Two years after Archie Cabello’s son, Vincent Cabello, was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after serving as a paratrooper, Archie roped him into his second heist.
At the time, prosecutors said Vincent had gotten a job at a security corporation in the Milwaukee area, guarding the night vault in the basement of a commercial building.
Vincent worshipped his father, authorities said, and felt “trapped” into going along with it.
“The plan they came up with was Archie would stage a robbery, he would act like a robber from beginning to end,” O’Connor said.
Archie showed up wearing a bushy beard, a backwards baseball hat and yellow-tinted sunglasses, armed with a BB gun. Authorities said Vincent Cabello had closed the vault door but purposefully didn’t spin the dial to lock it.
After Archie entered the building, authorities said the father and son team put on a big performance for the security cameras, with Archie yelling “freeze” and Vincent seeming to comply. Archie handcuffed his son, went into the vault and stole $730,000.
Det. Ron Laura questioned Vincent, and even though he didn’t break, he began to think it might have been an inside job.
“I was a little skeptical of why he wasn’t a little bit more shaken up,” Laura said. “With Vincent standing by his story, we had no probable cause to arrest him.”
One year after the second Milwaukee heist, the Cabellos moved to Portland, Oregon. By 1999, the family had moved 21 times in 18 years.
FBI had begun to suspect members of the Cabello family, but they seemed to be living paycheck to paycheck. The family rented a modest home for $975 a month in Portland, and Archie drove a beat-up, older model car, showing no obvious signs of living beyond their means.
Authorities said Archie went years without holding onto a job – that is, until his pile of stolen cash started running out.
In March 2005, Archie Cabello landed a new job with another armored delivery services company in Portland. His responsibilities included making pick-ups and deliveries for banks and government offices, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.
“He was pretty quiet, kept to himself,” said Kirk Gulian, a former operations manager for the company, “Archie seemed like a reliable worker, nothing really stood out.”
Just 10 months into the job, authorities said Cabello launched his next plan. On Dec. 6, 2005, the FBI said he was supposed to pick up a large container full of cash for delivery across town. But before Archie could reach his destination he claimed he was robbed by a bearded gunman.
“Archie told me that an armed robber came up to the armored car, displayed his hand gun and said, ‘Open the door,’” said FBI special agent Don Metcalf. “The armed robber, according to Archie during the interview, says, ‘Start driving.’”
Cabello was later found parked near a church, where a dog walker happened to be passing by. Authorities said the dog walker saw Cabello handcuffed to the truck’s front door and called 911. Cabello told the 911 operator that a man held a gun to his head and took a “couple of bags of money.” Over $7 million was on the armored car that day, the FBI said, including two shrink-wrapped bricks containing $1.5 million each in hundred-dollar bills that was missing.
As police scoured the area looking for the gunman Cabello had described to them, Cabello quit his job. Authorities realized the two bricks, totaling in $3 million, was missing from his truck, and started to suspect the armed robbery had been faked.
“The truck protection is sufficient enough to handle pistol rounds,” O’Connor said, which led him to question why Cabello would have opened the truck door when he would have known the glass and door were bulletproof.
Four days after the “robbery,” the FBI went to Cabello’s home with a search warrant and found more than 100 credit cards and 620 money order receipts, but not the stolen cash. Authorities were unable to make an arrest at that time.
“We didn’t catch them with the money, we didn’t catch him red-handed doing anything,” O’Connor said.
Prosecutors brought in IRS agent Miranda Cole to go over the credit card information and money order receipts found in the home search.
“He was really smart in how he spent his money,” Cole said. “He was renting his house. He had older vehicles. He had credit card expenses, but they were not extravagant.”
Their investigation found that Archie Cabello had made about $44,000 in legitimate earnings over a four-year period after the 2005 Oregon robbery, but the family had spent more than a quarter million dollars on the credit cards.
“They would purchase things on the credit cards and pay the bills off with these money orders, and of course, money orders can only be purchased in cash,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Claire Fay.
But then Cabello’s son Vincent bought a Hummer and paid in cash, which is how authorities knew the Cabellos still had the money.
Four days before the statute of limitations for charging someone with a crime expired on the 2005 Oregon robbery, authorities arrested Archie, Marian and Vincent Cabello.
Facing a 51-count indictment for conspiracy to steal and possess bank money, false statements in credit card applications, filing a false tax return, and money laundering, the Cabellos were released, pending trial.
In February 2012, prosecutors received a call from Vincent Cabello’s lawyer, saying he was ready to cooperate with authorities.
“He was very willing to tell a long story of how this had started in the ‘90s and it carried through to 2005, when they committed the large $3 million theft,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Edmonds. “He was, in a way, getting something off his chest.”
Authorities said Vincent told them about a safe deposit box in Bellevue, Washington, that his father had set up under a fake name. Records show this was where Archie Cabello had stashed the stolen $3 million and he had visited the safe deposit box more than 50 times to take cash back to Portland.
According to Vincent, Archie Cabello used the cash to buy money orders to pay off the credit cards and also gave cash to his wife and son, hidden in household product containers with false bottoms around the house, the FBI said.
When authorities opened the safe deposit box, it still had roughly $1.9 million inside.
During questioning, FBI special agent Ken O’Connor said Vincent admitted he and his father had carried out the Portland robbery.
He said his father sent his fellow courier inside the bank for a pick-up, then took off and called Vincent from a throwaway phone to get into position.
Vincent told authorities that Archie then pulled the truck near the pre-arranged meeting point in a neighborhood called Ladd’s Addiction. As Archie kept the truck moving to avoid suspicion, Vincent secretly jumped onto the truck, filled two bags of cash totaling $3 million, and waited until Archie drove back past Vincent’s vehicle, where Vincent then jumped off, taking Archie’s throwaway phone with him.
After Vincent was off the truck, authorities said that was when Archie drove to the church, handcuffed himself, and waited.
After Vincent’s confession, Archie and Marian Cabello were re-arrested for violating the terms of their release and held in custody until trial.
Vincent later testified against his father in federal court.
In March 2013, Vincent and Marian Cabello received a 15-month prison sentence each for their roles in the Portland theft. Both had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, but their sentences were reduced for cooperating with police.
Archie Cabello, acting as his own attorney at trial, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison in Texas for stealing $3 million from an Oregon armored services truck. Cabello had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank larceny, possession of stolen bank funds, making false statements on credit applications, making and subscribing to a false income tax return, and money laundering. He is due to be released in July 2029.
The Cabellos declined “20/20” requests for comment on this report.
“Having this money was a huge break in the case,” said prosecutor Claire Fay. “It would have been a much more difficult case without the money.”