By Mark Gutglueck
(November 19) A 37-year-old Fontana resident employed as a guard in an armored car partook in an inside job to heist over one million in cash, according to federal authorities.
While the two employees of the cash handling service company involved in the heist succeeded in dropping the money off and having it recovered by a third party and then secreting away some 90 percent of the ill-gained proceeds, ultimately they were caught.
Cesar Yanez, 37, of Fontana, and Aldo Esquivel Vega, 28, of Pomona, both of whom were employed as armored truck drivers for Loomis, were arrested on November 13 without incident by special agents with the FBI and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department. In relation to search warrants executed the same day, agents found approximately $85,000 in cash at Yanez’s Fontana residence.
A third person involved in the scheme, Jovita Medina Guzman, 39, of San Bernardino, was also arrested on November 13. She is charged with helping her co-defendants hide and disperse the stolen funds and for being an accessory after the fact.
All three defendants were arraigned on a four-count indictment November 13 in United States District Court.
The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on November 7 and unsealed on November 13, alleges that Yanez and Vega, while employed by Loomis on June 27 were transporting a multimillion dollar shipment of cash for Bank of America when they stopped in a parking lot on West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. Vega electronically opened the rear doors of the armored car, which allowed Yanez to access the cash storage area of the vehicle. Yanez removed $1,086,000 in cash from the armored car and placed it into a trash can that had been left in the parking lot by an as-yet-unidentified person, who later picked up the trash can and recovered the stolen money. Later, Guzman allegedly delivered some of the stolen money to Vega.
Yanez and Vega are each charged with conspiracy to commit bank larceny and bank larceny. Additionally, Yanez and Guzman are charged with possession of bank larceny proceeds, and Guzman is charged as an accessory after the fact to hinder and prevent her co-defendants’ apprehension, trial, and punishment.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Rhoades, who is prosecuting Yanez, Vega and Guzman, only $116,000 of the loot from the caper has been recovered so far. Some $25,000 of that money was retrieved by an informant working with the FBI on the case, Rhodes said. Roughly $91,000 was discovered to be in the possession of Yanez, Rhodes said.
“More than $900,000 is still missing,” Rhoades told the Sentinel.
Loomis discovered the money was missing shortly after the theft occurred, Rhoades said, but both Yanez and Vega remained at liberty for the more than four months following the disappearance of the money until their arrests.
If they are convicted of the offenses alleged in the indictment, Yanez would face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison; Vega would face up to 15 years; and Guzman could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in custody. Additionally, each of the defendants could be ordered to pay fines of as much as two times the loss suffered by Bank of America.
Rhoades told the Sentinel that Yanez faces a stiffer sentence because he is charged with having taken possession of the money and distributing it after the theft.
The investigation into the theft of bank funds was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Rhoades said an investigation into the whereabouts of the yet unrecovered money is ongoing.
By Mark Gutglueck