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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

That Bank Robbery Didn’t Go Well

LOS ANGELES (CN) - An assistant bank manager and her ex were convicted Monday of conspiring to rob the bank of $565,000, in which the woman wore a fake bomb to simulate a kidnapping.

Aurora Barrera, 33, and Reyes "Ray" Vega, 34, face up to 30 years in prison at their May 19 sentencing.

They were convicted after a one-week trial. Barrera was an assistant manager of a Bank of America branch in East Los Angeles.

"During the robbery, Barrera walked into the bank with what appeared to be an explosive device taped to her body, convinced a co-worker that she had been kidnapped that morning by two black men, told the co-worker that they had to open the vault and place money outside the bank or else the kidnappers would harm them," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement announcing the conviction.

"Barrera and her co-worker placed $565,500 of the bank's money into bags and then threw the bags out the bank's side door. One of Vega's longtime friends, Richard Menchaca, picked up the money and drove it away from the bank. Menchaca met up with another accomplice, Bryan Perez, and they moved the money to a safe location. The device attached to Barrera's body turned out to be a hoax when the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Bomb Squad arrived and disabled it using a robot.

"Menchaca and Perez were also charged in this case, but they pleaded guilty and testified at the trial of Vega and Barrera."

Vega and Barrera were "dating" at the time, and Barrera testified at trial that she planned to marry him and move to Dubai, where he claimed to have job offers, prosecutors said.

"However, Barrera said she ended the relationship after learning that Vega was dating several other women at the time and that he had been charged with orchestrating the robbery," the U.S. attorney said in the statement. "Several of Vega's former friends also testified at trial about how he asked for help in planning the robbery and how he bragged about it afterwards."

Most of the money is gone. The FBI is trying to recover it.

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