Arrest Made In East L.A. Bank Heist

Kidnapped bank manager allegedly knew the suspect.

By City News Service

A man was arrested in connection with the Sept. 5 robbery of a Bank of America branch in East Los Angeles that involved the kidnapping of the bank’s manager, who was falsely told by her two abductors that a bomb had been strapped to her body, authorities announced Wednesday.

Ray Vega, 33, of Bell, was arrested Sept. 6 and booked on suspicion of conspiracy and robbery, according to Huntington Park police Lt. Neal Mongan.

This bank located at 941 S. Atlantic Blvd. was one of the scenes of the crime on Sept. 5. The other scene was the bank teller’s home. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

Investigators declined to provide specifics, but KCAL9 reported that Vega was the boyfriend of the bank manager who had been kidnapped. The Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that the suspect and bank manager were acquaintances.

According to Mongan, Vega was released last Friday on $100,000 bail.

“The investigation remains very fluid, active and is ongoing,” Mongan said in a statement.

“Investigators have been working around the clock. We will not be discussing any specific details regarding this investigation.”

According to authorities, two suspects abducted the female bank manager in Huntington Park, strapped what they said was a bomb to her body and then sent her into the bank at 941 S. Atlantic Blvd. around 8:30 a.m. Sept. 5 with instructions to toss cash through a back door, which she did.

The robbers got away with “a decent amount of money,” sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said, declining to say how much.

At least one suspect had a gun, according to authorities.

The kidnapped woman, who was uninjured but distraught, was questioned by police detectives and FBI agents. She had been kidnapped in front of her apartment in Huntington Park on the morning of the robbery, Parker said.

A sheriff’s deputy took the alleged bomb off the woman and placed it on the curb, where it was detonated by a robot, Parker said.

“Investigators determined that although it looked like an explosive device, it was not explosives,” Parker said.

Bomb experts also examined the bank manager’s car, as well as the bank building. The area was declared safe about an hour later, Parker said.

The robbery was reminiscent of a 2003 heist in Erie, Pa., where a pizza deliveryman who had a real bomb attached to his neck robbed a bank and then was killed when the device blew up as state troopers surrounded him.

Anyone with information on the robbery was asked to call Huntington Park police at (323) 584-6254.

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September 13, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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