Precious Memories: Newlywed Bandits Sentenced to Prison

A pair of bank robbers dubbed the "Newlywed Bandits" were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to multi-year prison terms.

Rayceana Racheal Rocha, a 24-year-old former criminology student at Whittier's Rio Hondo Community College, received 51 months after pleading guilty to three counts related to the robberies.

Her then-boyfriend, 27-year-old ex-con Paul Harlen Meyerkamp Jr., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J. Spencer Letts to 78 months in federal prison on the five counts to which he pleaded guilty.

Authorities said the pair robbed five banks in a three-week period in 2007.

At their Christmas Eve 2007 arraignment,  Rocha and Meyerkamp whispered to each other, gazed into each other's eyes and smiled. The unmarried couple were christened the "Newlywed Bandits" by an FBI agent who watched them on surveillance tapes.

On Monday, as the couple sat at the defense table, separated by an attorney, no secret smiles remained.

Meyerkamp told the judge he hadn't seen or talked to Rocha "for some time." Rocha glanced in his direction just once -- as he apologized to "everyone I've hurt."

The pair were picked up in November 2007 when they robbed a pedestrian and carjacked a vehicle in Las Vegas, then led police on a pursuit.

Rocha, who was driving, crashed the vehicle and was arrested. Meyerkamp was caught after a foot chase.

A month earlier, the couple had robbed a Wells Fargo branch in La Habra, East West Bank branches in El Monte and Diamond Bar, a Bank of America branch in Duarte and a Downey Savings in Claremont.

Authorities said they made off with more than $14,000.

"I'm not the same person I was," Rocha told Letts, adding that she has a 4-year-old daughter. "I will never put anything -- no drug, no man -- before her again."

Both have criminal records.  Rocha was convicted in state court in 2004 for possessing drug paraphernalia. Meyerkamp has a record for battery, illegally possessing a firearm and making a weapon in prison.

Along with the prison terms, Letts ordered the exes to pay restitution to the banks in the amounts of $12,000 for Rocha and $9,900 for Meyerkamp.

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