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Aug. 18, 2011

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Four Convicted in March 2011 Robbery of International Bank of Commerce

Two IBOC bank tellers admit planning heist

HOUSTON – Two former female bank tellers and two males indicted for bank robbery and embezzlement of bank funds arising from the March 23, 2011, robbery of the International Bank of Commerce (IBOC) in Houston have all been convicted, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Ricky Gonzalez, 19, the boyfriend of Estefany Danelia Martinez, one of the IBOC tellers charged and convicted in this case, pleaded guilty today to each of the two counts charged in the indictment returned in May 11, 2011. Martinez, 18, and Anna Margarita Rivera, 19, the two former IBOC bank tellers, and Arturo Solano, 22, Rivera’s brother, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges. All four defendants are set for sentencing on dates in November and December 2011 and face a maximum 10-year-term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the bank robbery conviction and a maximum 30-year-term of imprisonment and a $1 million fine for the embezzlement conviction. The United States will be seeking a judgment at sentencing to forfeit from the defendants the remainder of the funds stolen from the bank.

The investigation leading to the filing of federal charges against these four defendants was conducted by the FBI and the Houston Police Department and substantially assisted by a tip called into Houston Crimestoppers. All four defendants were arrested in April 2011 after the filing of criminal complaints. According to allegations contained in the complaints filed in this case which ultimately resulted in the return of the indictment, on March 23, 2011, two men wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts and who appeared to be armed with semi-automatic pistols entered the Eldridge Parkway branch of the IBOC. They robbed the bank of approximately $62,201 dollars by threatening the two bank tellers on duty, Martinez and Rivera. The tellers were allegedly forced to empty their teller drawers of cash as well as to fill bags provided by the robbers with cash from the vault. After the two men left the bank, the two tellers - who had remained in the vault, called 911. The tellers described the events and provided a false description of the two robbers to police.

Shortly after the robbery, an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers claimed that bank employees, Martinez and Rivera, had actually staged the bank robbery along with Martinez’ boyfriend, Ricky Gonzalez, and another male and directed investigators to the Facebook pages of Martinez and Gonzalez. Through further investigation, investigating agents ultimately identified Gonzales and Solano as the two males who had robbed the IBOC bank with the assistance of former bank tellers Martinez and Rivera and recovered $34,940 of the money stolen from the bank.

With the Gonzalez’s guilty plea today, all four defendants have admitted their roles in this staged robbery of the IBOC bank. Gonzalez and Solano are in custody, while Martinez and Rivera have posted bond and have been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.      

Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.