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CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED TO 19 YEAR TERM FOR ARMED ROBBERIES OF CREDIT UNION
Defendant Recruited Others to Scheme – Robbed Credit Union Twice in Six Months

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2007

MITCHELL ANDRE FRIEND, 28, of Los Angeles, California, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 19 years in prison for two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Armed Credit Union Robbery, and Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to a crime of Violence. FRIEND agreed to a sentence of 19 years in prison when he pleaded guilty on July 3, 2006.

According to the plea agreement, in 2004, FRIEND and another man conspired to rob America’s Credit Union on Pacific Avenue South in Pierce County. On July 14, 2004, FRIEND and the co-conspirator entered the bank with loaded handguns. Pointing them at the tellers they demanded money from the tills and the vault. They made their getaway with more than $36,000. Just six months later in February 2005, FRIEND again plotted to rob the same credit union. FRIEND used a different group of criminal cohorts for the robbery. On February 24, 2005, FRIEND and a juvenile entered the bank armed with handguns. They ordered an armed security guard to lay on the floor and took his weapon. They ordered the staff to open the vault, and escaped with more than $82,000.

Ultimately a tip lead authorities to one of FRIEND’s co-conspirators. FRIEND was arrested January 26, 2006 in California where he was already in jail on a probation violation.

In his sentencing memo, Assistant United States Attorney Michael Dion pointed out the danger of FRIEND’s crimes saying the robberies “could have easily ended with dead or wounded ACU employees, customers, or police officers. Even though no shots were fired, Friend’s victims will never be free of the fear and trauma he inflicted on them.”

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Pierce County Violent Crimes Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney’s Michael Dion and Gregory Gruber.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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