San Diego

Teller Helped Friends Rob Chase Bank in Mission Valley: FBI

FBI agents say the robber, a man who helped plan the heist and the teller at the bank were friends and former roommates

Two suspects were arrested Wednesday for a June 6 robbery at a Chase Bank branch in Mission Valley and FBI agents are still looking for a third suspect, identified as a corrupt bank teller who helped plan the crime.

According to the criminal complaint, all three suspects lived together in an apartment on University Avenue, in San Diego’s El Cerrito neighborhood.

Surveillance photos from inside the bank helped the FBI catch the alleged robber, Aldo de Jesus Gomez.

A fingerprint on the Gomez’s demand note led agents to Joe Anthony Mares, who allegedly wrote the demand note and helped plan the robbery.

Gomez went into the Chase Bank on Mission Center Road and demanded money. His note threatened bodily harm on bank customers if the teller did not comply.

Court documents reveal that after Gomez and Mares were arrested, they waived their Miranda rights and revealed more details about the alleged crime.

Gomez reportedly told agents that the bank teller, Jesus Ramon Garcia-Lopez, was a friend of his and lived with him and Mares at the University Avenue apartment.

“Mares, Garcia and Gomez researched the best methods to rob a bank together,” an FBI agent wrote in court documents. “Garcia (the teller) told Mares the time to rob the bank to ensure he would be working, and also that he would have approximately $25,000 in his teller drawers.”

Attorney Guadalupe Valencia, who has defended several bank robbery suspects but is not involved in this case, said this alleged bank heist is “very unusual, very interesting, and a very, very unique type of case.”

Valencia speculates that the amount of the heist was a tip-off to FBI agents that the bank teller might be involved. The average take from a bank robbery is just $2,500, or one-tenth of what was taken in the Chase Bank heist, according to Valencia.

Valencia said it’s very unusual for a bank teller to have so much cash in their teller drawers.

“I think the investigators probably thought, ‘Wow, this is a large amount of money for this kind of robbery, it's pretty unusual.’"

Law enforcement personnel are still searching for Garcia. If arrested, he could be charged with aiding and abetting a bank robbery.

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