‘Dangerous’ Bank Robbery Suspect Sought

Times Staff Writer

The FBI is searching Southern California for a bank robbery suspect, described as armed and extremely dangerous, who is believed to be responsible for four holdups in Torrance, Orange County and Florida during the past year that netted nearly $1 million.

Ralph Stephen Gambin, 41, is believed to be traveling with another fugitive, Julieta Flores Marquez, 46, who is wanted by the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Attempted Robbery at Mall

Gambin is also a suspect in the attempted robbery last Friday of a Security Pacific Bank branch at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, according to Lawrence G. Lawler, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.


In that incident, a man believed to be Gambin pulled a gun on the bank manager in one of the shopping center’s parking garages, handcuffed a briefcase to her wrist and warned her that it would explode if she did not return with cash within 10 minutes.

When the manager entered the bank, employees called police, who removed the handcuffs a short time later. No bomb was found in the briefcase.

When police went to the garage to search for the suspect, the manager’s car was missing. It was found abandoned a short distance away.

The FBI believes Gambin also was involved in last August’s robbery of a Security Pacific Bank branch in Buena Park and the holdup of a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Torrance in April, 1988.

In the Buena Park case, two men held a Security Pacific Bank teller and her family hostage overnight in their La Habra apartment. A device they claimed was a bomb was strapped to the teller’s body and she was driven to the bank, where one of the robbers told employees the device would be detonated if they didn’t open the vault. They escaped with $80,000. The device was not a bomb.

In the Wells Fargo robbery, three men held a bank manager and her son hostage for 12 hours and then drove to the bank and forced employees to open the vault. Officials said at the time that “a large sum” was taken.


Gambin is also wanted for two Florida bank robberies.

Fugitives List

In all cases, the FBI said, Gambin used handguns, disguises, handcuffs and bomb threats, and either took or threatened to take hostages.

Gambin was convicted and served time in federal prison for a 1973 bank robbery in Iowa in which hostages were taken. During an escape attempt in 1976, he shot and wounded two U.S. Marshals. He is wanted for parole violation and is on the marshal’s “Top 15 Fugitives List.”

Marquez, a disbarred San Antonio attorney, is charged with harboring, aiding and abetting Gambin and is also wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

“They’re a couple of nogoodniks, robbing banks and scaring the heck out of people,” Lawler said.

Gambin is described as white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 185 pounds with a muscular build, brown eyes, brown and gray hair, and a ruddy complexion.

Marquez is a Latina, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 120 pounds, with brown hair and eyes, although her appearance has been altered by plastic surgery, the FBI said.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts should contact the FBI at (213) 477-6565 or the U.S. Marshal’s Service at (213) 894-2485.