Senior Suspected of Robbing Bank, Mistreating Dogs Charged

"Over all the years of my career, this is by far the worst call I have ever been to"

A second-degree robbery charge was filed Friday against a 72-year-old man accused of robbing a Corona bank and whose nearly three-dozen dogs were seized after being found amid filthy conditions, without enough to eat or drink, when police investigating the heist served a warrant at the defendant's home.

Robert Bustamante Flores was arrested Wednesday following a Corona police investigation into the June 20 holdup at the Pacific Western Bank branch in the 1000 block of West Sixth Street.

Flores is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside and was slated to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

According to Corona police Detective Mario Hernandez, Flores allegedly presented a teller with a threatening note demanding cash and was handed an undisclosed amount of money, then left the bank in an unknown direction and eluded police.

After a few weeks, investigators identified the defendant as the alleged perpetrator and summoned him to the Corona Police Department for a voluntary interview, after which he was taken into custody without incident, the detective said.

He said a search warrant was obtained for Flores' house in the 100 block of North Vicentia Avenue, where investigators seized items allegedly used during the bank robbery.

Hernandez said Flores "told investigators that he had about 26 dogs in the main area of his home," and said he slept in the garage and let the dogs roam the house.

Police and animal control personnel arrived at the residence after dark Wednesday and located 35 canines, including seven newborn puppies.

"Over all the years of my career, this is by far the worst call I have ever been to," Corona Animal Control Officer Bill Sellers said. "I have never witnessed this level of blatant neglect." 

According to Sellers, animal waste was spread throughout the house, much of it decomposed and having the consistency of mulch. He said many of the canines were emaciated, suffering from malnutrition and disease. All of the furniture in the house was destroyed, leaving only frames, according to the animal control officer.

"One adult dog had to be humanely euthanized as a result of its several open wounds and its extreme medical condition," he said. "All of the dogs and puppies were taken to the Corona Animal Shelter (to) be fed, hydrated and evaluated in a quarantine status." 

The animal cruelty case remains open and under review by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. An amended complaint may be filed, depending on what prosecutors decide.

Flores has no prior documented felony convictions.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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