Three men face federal charges in East L.A. bank robbery

Scene from September 2012 East L.A. bank robbery/C.J. Salgado

Federal charges have been filed against three men involved in last year’s robbery of a Bank of America branch in East Los Angeles during which a bank manager, a girl friend of one of the defendants, was outfitted with a fake explosive device.  Officials said one additional suspect may still be at large.

A federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed today that charged Reyes “Ray” Vega, Richard Menchaca and Bryan Perez with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, bank robbery and aiding and abetting each other by force, violence and intimidation.

Ray Vega, 34, was taken into custody by FBI Agents in Atlanta, Georgia and was held in federal custody over the weekend, according to the FBI. Richard Menchaca, 36, was arrested in Fontana, California, by members of the FBI’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). Bryan Perez, 27, was arrested following a vehicle stop in Los Angeles by detectives with the Huntington Park Police Department.

A release issued by the FBI recaps last year’s crime and provides more details about the September 2012 crime:

The indictment alleges that Ray Vega planned and made arrangements to rob the Bank of America located at 941 South Atlantic Avenue in Los Angeles, where one of his girlfriends worked as an assistant branch manager. The girlfriend is identified in the indictment only by the initials of “A.B.” The indictment alleges that defendants Perez and Menchaca traveled to examine the bank and surrounding area prior to the actual robbery, and that defendant Vega secured vehicles registered to a family member for use during the robbery.

The indictment further alleges that, on the morning of the robbery and during it, Vega arranged for A.B. to wear a device resembling an explosive on her person so that she would appear to be a hostage. The device was rendered safe by explosives experts who responded to the bank robbery and later determined that the device was a hoax. According to the indictment, the purported device was used so it would appear that explosives would be detonated unless an employee of the bank assisted A.B. by accessing the bank’s vault. The indictment alleges that defendant Menchaca picked up the cash placed outside of the bank by A.B.

The defendants later met at a hotel to split the proceeds of the bank robbery, according to the indictment. The stolen money has not been recovered.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison. Law enforcement investigators believe there is a strong possibility that additional individual/s have knowledge of the bank robbery and/or the whereabouts of the stolen cash,” according to the FBI.

ABC7 reports that officials declined to say whether the assistant branch manager, who had allegedly been kidnapped during the crime, would be charged, saying  only that no kidnapping charges were included in the indictment.



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