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LAPD Officer Convicted in 1997 Bank Robbery

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles police officer was convicted Wednesday of staging an armed takeover at a Bank of America branch near USC and fleeing with $722,000 in cash, most of which has not been recovered.

David Anthony Mack, a highly regarded nine-year LAPD training officer at the time of the holdup, faces 10 to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced June 28.

After little more than a day of deliberations, a federal court jury found the 37-year-old Mack guilty of armed robbery, conspiracy and use of an assault weapon during the commission of a crime.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen G. Wolfe said he was pleased but not surprised by the verdict. “We always believed there was enough evidence to support guilty verdicts,” he said.

Mack’s former girlfriend, a supervisor at the bank branch, faces trial next month as an alleged accomplice in the Nov. 6, 1997, robbery. Authorities say Errolyn Romero, 26, ordered an excessively large amount of cash delivered to the bank on the morning of the robbery and buzzed Mack through two security doors leading into the cash vault. She says she acted under duress.

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FBI and LAPD investigators say Mack also had help from two male accomplices, one of whom held a gun to the head of a security guard inside the Jefferson Boulevard bank while the other remained outside behind the wheel of a getaway van.

Both confederates escaped, their identities still a mystery.

Most of the stolen cash has not been recovered, although authorities say Mack used part of it to pay off debts he and his wife had accumulated and to buy leather furniture, expensive stereo equipment and a Chevy Blazer.

Mack did not testify during the trial. But his lawyer, Donald Re, suggested during cross-examination of a government witness that Mack might have hoarded his savings at home to avoid having it attached by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS said at the time that Mack and his wife owed $20,000 in back taxes.

Mack became the prime suspect in the case soon after the robbery when bank employees, including Romero, were asked to submit to polygraph tests. After telling her she had flunked, investigators interrogated Romero closely and she incriminated Mack. But the confession was ultimately thrown out by U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi because Romero was not read her Miranda rights.

Authorities said they already were developing independent information linking Romero to Mack. During a search of Mack’s Los Angeles home, investigators found a semiautomatic 9-millimeter pistol outfitted with a metal barrel extender and a shoulder strap, much like the one worn by the bank bandit.

The searchers also found hidden under a hallway closet carpet receipts for many of the items Mack had purchased after the robbery as well as a bank receipt showing a $7,000 cash deposit on the day of the holdup.

On the witness stand, bank employees Leportia Davis and Rhea Edwards gave detailed descriptions of the robber’s assault weapon that was strapped over his shoulder. Their accounts included specifics about the size and spacing of holes on the gun barrel.

But the two women gave sharply conflicting descriptions of the gunman’s physical appearance.

Mack has been held without bail since his arrest on Dec. 16, 1997. With nearly $700,000 of the bank loot unaccounted for, a federal magistrate declared him to be a serious flight risk.

At the time of the robbery, he worked the graveyard shift at the West Los Angeles Division.

In the 1980s, Mack was a world-class track star. While attending the University of Oregon, he won the NCAA 800-meter championship.


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