News and Press Releases

BANK ROBBER WHO STRUCK IN TWO STATES GETS 7+ YEARS IN PRISON
Robber Faces Additional Time for Bank Robberies in Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2009

ROBERT VINCENT MENDEZ, 43, of Morgan Hills, California, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Bank Robbery. MENDEZ pleaded guilty August 24, 2009, admitting he was responsible for three robberies in Washington State. MENDEZ has been indicted for an additional four bank robberies in Oregon. At sentencing today U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton noted that “there is a very real need to protect the community from the defendant.”

According to records filed in the case, MENDEZ was arrested by Tacoma Police in November 2007, based on a warrant from California. Investigators quickly tied MENDEZ to a string of bank robberies in the northwest in October and November 2007, including three in Puyallup and one in Vancouver, Washington. In his plea agreement MENDEZ admitted that he robbed the Columbia Bank branch on South Meridian in Puyallup on October 19, 2007, the Wells Fargo branch on Meridian Ave. East in Puyallup on November 1, 2007 and the Bank of America branch on Meridian Ave. East in Puyallup on November 17, 2009. MENDEZ also admitted robbing Washington Mutual Bank in Vancouver, Washington, in October 2007.

In each robbery, the tellers report that MENDEZ implied that he had a weapon. He entered the bank branch and approached the teller with dark clothing and a hat pulled low on his face. He did not speak, but handed the teller a note demanding all the money in the till. In the robbery of Columbia Bank MENDEZ handed the teller a note saying, “Put the money in the bag. Have a nice day. Do not press the alarm.” The last sentence was highlighted and underlined. MENDEZ must pay $7,107 in restitution to the banks.

In her sentencing memo, Assistant United States Attorney Ye-Ting Woo wrote that the robberies have a long lasting impact on the tellers. “Two of the bank employees also expressed to law enforcement agents that they continue to have nightmares of the incident, and one of them left the employment of the bank shortly afterwards,” Ms. Woo wrote in her sentencing memo.

MENDEZ has also been indicted in Oregon for four robberies there. He likely will face additional federal prison time consecutive to this prison term for the robberies there.

The case was investigated by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, the Puyallup Police Department, Tacoma Police Department and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ye-Ting Woo.

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

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