Ted Chen, Tommy Bravo
Three men were arrested in connection with an East LA bank robbery in September 2012. That crime began with reports of an assistant bank manager being kidnapped. All were charged with robbery and conspiracy, but not kidnapping. Ted Chen reports from East LA for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on May 20, 2013.
Three Los Angeles men arrested in a September 2012 bank robbery that led to a bomb squad response -- prompted by a fake explosive device on a bank employee, the girlfriend of one suspect -- were charged Monday in connection with the case.
Reyes Vega, Richard Menchaca and Bryan Perez, all of Los Angeles, were arrested Friday. An indictment that accuses the men of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and bank robbery was unsealed Monday.
The heist occurred at the East LA Bank of America on Atlantic Avenue, where Vega's girlfriend was an assistant manager. Vega arranged for his girlfriend to wear a device that resembled a bomb, making her appear to be a hostage, according to federal investigators.
Authorities are still investigating the assistant branch manager's level of involvement in the caper. No one in the case has been charged with kidnapping, said Huntington Park Police Chief Jorge Cisneros.
Aerial video captured images of the employee in a police vehicle as a bomb squad robot detonated the fake device. The woman told police she had been abducted.
The fake device was designed to convince employees it would explode unless they helped the girlfriend open the bank vault, according to the indictment.
One of the men retrieved cash placed outside the bank by the girlfriend and the men later met at a hotel to split up the money, prosecutors said. The money has never been recovered.
Vega was arrested in Atlanta, and Menchaca and Perez were arrested in Southern California.