LA Federal Court

A former Dunbar Armored employee was sentenced to two years in federal prison today for the theft of $300,000 in cash from the armored truck company's storage facility in Vernon.

Eric Miranda, 39, of East Los Angeles, was also ordered to serve three years on supervised release after his prison term and pay restitution of $279,369. He was also ordered to participate in mental health treatment during the period of supervision.

In asking that he be spared prison time, Miranda said he was suffering from depression and severe stress due to family issues at the time of the theft.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee responded that people suffering from depression and stress normally seek treatment.

"They do not steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from their employer," she said.

The defendant pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit bank theft and three counts of bank theft. He was ordered to self-surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service in downtown Los Angeles on March 6 to start his sentence.

Miranda, who was a coin supervisor at the plant, and a co-worker who worked as a teller conducted three money switches, using dummy bricks of bills that were switched out for genuine cash bricks in late 2017 and early 2018.

Miranda created the phony stacks of $100,000 by taking hundreds of $1 bills and sandwiching them between $100 bills in order to make them appear to be bricks of hundreds totaling $100,000 each.

Miranda then smuggled the dummy bricks into the Dunbar vault, where he and Monique Castruita, 35, of Maywood, switched them for real stacks of $100,000. The two then marked the dummy stacks to ensure they were not placed into circulation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Finally, Miranda smuggled the real bricks of money out of the vault room on a cart by hiding them in postal boxes. The take totaled $300,000 in cash belonging to Capital One, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors wrote in court papers that photos found on Miranda's cell phone depicted large sums of bundled cash and images of firearms.

Castruita previously pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to conspiracy and bank theft charges and is scheduled to be sentenced April 29.

In his argument for a probationary term, Miranda's attorney, Charles C. Brown, told the court that it was not hard to imagine how someone working around millions of dollars in cash might "lose touch with reality."

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Axelrad countered that Miranda's scheme was relatively complicated, involving hiding and maneuvering "to ensure his tracks were covered."

"Simply because it belongs to a bank doesn't make it less bad," the prosecutor said.

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