14 Years for Bank Job;|$400,000 Still Missing

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The mastermind of a $565,000 bank robbery – who conspired with his assistant bank manager-girlfriend to rob her East Los Angeles bank by having her pose as a human bomb – was sentenced Monday to 14 years in federal prison.
     Reyes “Ray” Vega, 35, of Bell, also was ordered, with his co-defendants, to pay $556,800 in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     Vega and his then-girlfriend, Aurora Barrera, 33, were convicted in March after a jury trial.
     They were convicted of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, bank robbery, and assaulting a bank worker with a dangerous weapon – the bogus explosive device that Barrera wore when she robbed the bank she helped managed on Sept. 5, 2012.
     Barrera entered the Bank of America branch that day with what appeared to be explosives taped to her body. She told an employee she had been kidnapped that morning and that they had to open the vault and put money outside the bank or the kidnappers would blow her up.
     Barrera and her co-worker then put $565,800 into bags and threw them outside door. Barrera’s friend Richard Menchaca picked up the money and drove away, then split it up with another accomplice, Bryan Perez, the U.S. attorney said.
     The bomb was a phony; an LAPD bomb squad blew it up from a distance.
     Menchaca and Perez pleaded guilty and testified at the trial of Vega and Barrera, prosecutors said. They and Barrera will be sentenced in August.
     Menchaca and Perez got about $150,000 of the swag, and spent most of it, the U.S. attorney said. The other $400,000 is still missing.

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