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Lawyer, Ex-Paralegal Indicted in Laundering of Money From Holdup

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A lawyer and his former paralegal have been indicted on charges of laundering $1.6 million from an $18.9-million robbery at the Dunbar armored truck depot in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors said Friday.

David Matsumoto, 50, and his onetime legal assistant, Joaquin Bin, 55, were named in a 71-count indictment charging money laundering and filing false income tax returns.

If convicted, they could be imprisoned for as much as 20 years.

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In March, FBI agents arrested six men accused of carrying out the Sept. 13, 1997, robbery, described as the largest cash haul in Los Angeles history.

FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents said at the time that they had traced about $4 million of the stolen money, which the suspects allegedly plowed into purchases of new homes, cars and a Texas business venture.

The robbers were also said to have dropped a large bundle of cash at gambling casinos in Las Vegas.

But most of the stolen money is still missing, Assistant U.S. Atty. Alka Sagar said Friday.

Matsumoto, who practices immigration and personal injury law, was taken into custody at his Wilshire Boulevard office on Thursday, brought before a federal magistrate and released on $100,000 bail. Although he practices in Los Angeles, he lives in Las Vegas. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Bin, who lives in Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara County, where he now raises Arabian horses, surrendered to authorities Friday, He, too, was freed on $100,000 bond. Both men will be arraigned next week.

Authorities said the theft was masterminded by a Dunbar security guard, Allen Pace III, 30, of Compton, who recruited the five other defendants and provided them with a floor plan and a key to the depot on Mateo Street.

Wearing ski masks and armed with pistols and a shotgun, the robbers roughed up several employees inside the depot and bound them with duct tape, but no shots were fired.

After the robbery, investigators found a plastic taillight lens at the scene. The FBI’s forensic lab matched it with those used on 14-foot-long U-Haul trucks. The robbers had used a U-Haul.

But the clue was of no help until an informant tipped the FBI to a possible suspect, Eugene Lamar Hill Jr., 33, of Bellflower. Agents discovered that Hill had rented a 14-foot-long U-Haul truck a day before the robbery and returned it a day later.

Hill confessed and named the other robbery suspects, along with Matsumoto and Bin. Sagar said it took several months for investigators to unravel the money laundering scheme and assemble enough evidence to present to a grand jury.

Matsumoto and Bin wrote more than 50 checks totaling more than $1.4 million on behalf of two suspects for investment in Combustion Process Manufacturing Corp. of Houston.

Matsumoto and Bin were also accused of laundering money that suspects used to make down payments on homes.

Three suspects, including Hill, have pleaded guilty to taking part in the robbery and await sentencing. Pace and two other suspects are scheduled to go on trial in October.


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