The plan was allegedly concocted by Cesar Yanez and Aldo Esquivel Vega, who drove the armored vehicle daily, ferrying millions of dollars in cash from a Bank of America distribution center in downtown Los Angeles.
During one of those trips in June, prosecutors say, the drivers parked at Los Anayas restaurant on West Adams Boulevard, stashed bags containing roughly $1 million in cash in a trash can and carried on with their route, hoping to avoid detection and recover the money later, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
But it was only a matter of time before such a large chunk of money was missed.
On Thursday morning, after several months of investigation, FBI agents and Los Angeles police detectives arrested Yanez, 37, of Fontana, and Vega, 28, of Pomona, without incident.
During searches of Yanez’s home, agents found about $85,000 in cash, prosecutors said. A third person allegedly involved in the scheme — Jovita Medina Guzman, 39, of San Bernardino — was also arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of helping the two men hide and disperse the stolen funds after the fact.
Each of the men was charged Friday in a four-count indictment by a federal grand jury. Authorities have not identified other cohorts who allegedly took away the bulk of the cash.
Yanez and Vega are each charged with bank larceny and conspiracy to commit bank larceny. They are also charged with possession of bank larceny proceeds.
Guzman is charged as an accessory after the fact to hinder and prevent her co-defendants’ apprehension, trial and punishment, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
If convicted of all charges, Yanez would face a maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison, Vega would face up to 15 years, and Guzman could get as much as 15 years.
All three could also be ordered to pay fines of as much as two times the loss suffered by Bank of America.