An infamous heist revisited: One mystery that remains unsolved
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Jan. 6. I’m Justin Ray.
A task force made up of Los Angeles police detectives and agents from the FBI and IRS was able to recover only around $5 million from the theft, mostly in the form of homes, cars and other valuables. Authorities surmised that the rest was either spent at gambling tables in Las Vegas or burned because the culprits realized many bills had numbers that easily could be traced.
“Unfortunately, despite their extraordinary efforts, over $10 million is still unaccounted for,” then-U.S. Atty. Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in 2001, four years after the robbery. “I encourage anyone with information about these funds to contact the FBI.”
Allen Pace III was sentenced to 24 years and two months in federal prison for the brazen heist. Pace was also ordered to pay back the millions he and his five accomplices stole.
U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird characterized the sentence as “a very long time, a very serious sentence,” saying that she wanted to punish Pace for showing no remorse and for denying that he was behind the robbery.
Of the sentences given to all the convicted robbers, Pace’s was the longest. Erik Damon Boyd of Buena Park was sentenced to more than 17 years. The others received between eight and 10 years.
Eugene Lamar Hill Jr., who had rented the U-Haul used in the crime, also offered prosecutors the names of a lawyer and his former paralegal who were subsequently indicted on charges of money laundering. The pair were accused of writing more than 50 checks totaling more than $1.4 million on behalf of two suspects for investments and of laundering money used to make down payments on homes.
As much as $10 million still might be hidden somewhere, though the convicted robbers won’t spill the beans as to its location. Investigators believe there are other accomplices at large who know where the cash is hidden.
“If there are others out there, and the money’s still out there, this ain’t over,” McEachern said years ago.
Today, McEachern has an executive position managing and enforcing a bank’s policies and procedures. Mayorkas is the current secretary of Homeland Security for the Biden administration.
There is also a movie in the works. Caleeb Pinkett, producer of “Charm City Kings” and brother of Jada Pinkett Smith, and production company Rebel Maverick, are working on a film about the robbery.
I hope you liked the series! Do you have an idea for another California story that could be told this way? Email me Justin.Ray@latimes.com.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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Inside Klete Keller’s fall from Olympic gold to the Capitol riot. Keller, who stands 6 feet 6, stood out from the crowd at the U.S. Capitol. He wore a navy blue coat with “USA” emblazoned on the back in large white letters and the U.S. Olympic logo on the front. Friends and his fellow elite swimmers knew him as easygoing. Now, they are mystified. Why did someone who spent much of his life representing his country join the mob to attack a defining symbol of American democracy? The Times did some digging and uncovered some surprising information about the athlete who once lived in Southern California. Los Angeles Times
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who topped the field of candidates trying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in September’s failed recall, announced he will not run in California’s 2022 gubernatorial election. Other top Republicans who tried unsuccessfully to unseat Newsom in the recall, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox, also said they would assess whether to go after Newsom once again. Neither has launched an active campaign, and the primary is just over six months away. Los Angeles Times
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING
Stockton saw its homicide rate decrease significantly from 56 in 2020 to 39 in 2021. Joe Silva, spokesperson for the Stockton Police Department, said efforts like getting illegal guns off the streets, tips to Crime Stoppers and work from the city’s Office of Violence Prevention led to the drop. Another big factor, according to Silva, is the work of nonprofit organizations. Also, “when we look at the homicides that we investigated we did see a reduction in domestic violence type homicides,” Silva said. KXTV-TV
A man who was killed on New Year’s Day after being pushed into a train has been identified. Martin Andara, 68, of Santee, had just gotten off a trolley around 6:15 a.m. when an unknown man who had exited at the same time shoved him off the boarding platform without provocation and then fled on foot, according to the San Diego Police Department. The victim fell and was hit by a passing train, suffering fatal injuries. He died at the scene. San Diego Union-Tribune
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
The start of 2022 at the University of California feels like March 2020 deja vu for some students. Most campuses started the winter quarter Monday with two weeks of remote classes — a decision announced days before Christmas as Omicron cases prompted new warnings for caution from health experts and public officials. But the online reality has reminded students of March 2020 when a two-week shutdown turned into campus shutdowns that sundered their traditional college experience. With coronavirus cases rapidly surging, driven largely by younger adults, many students are already wondering whether the delay to in-person classes will expand. Los Angeles Times
Roughly 500 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, Sacramento City Unified School District officials said. The district received about 38,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in December from the California Department of Public Health. Those kits were given to thousands of students and staff before the break. School officials asked families to upload results through the district’s Primary Health portal. Nearly 20,000 test results were reported as of Monday and, of those results, about 500 were positive. That’s roughly 1 in 40 testing positive. Gulp. Sacramento Bee
L.A. County detects first ‘flurona’ case, a co-infection of flu and COVID. While we don’t know everything about the case, we have identified some details, such as the travel history and vaccination status of the infected teen. Los Angeles Times
Community rallies around owners of Fresno brewery after someone sets it on fire. Last Wednesday, a fire caused major damages to 411 Broadway Ales and Spirits. “We had just bought new equipment, we spent thousands on new ingredients for two months. All of that is gone,” said co-owner Joseph Soleno. On Thursday evening, a neighboring business shared surveillance video that shows a person setting the place on fire. The owners have received countless calls, texts, emails, and social media comments with support from the community. KFSN-TV
A rare look inside Bernard Judge’s 1970s experimental Tree House, shaped by ecology. “Is it possible to feel marooned in a wilderness hideaway in the middle of Los Angeles? It is if you are inhabiting the experimental home that architect Bernard Judge built for himself in the 1970s,” Carolina Miranda writes. There are plenty of breathtaking photos of the house planted vertically into the hillside. Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles: 71 San Diego: 65 San Francisco: Cloudy 55 San Jose: Cloudy 59 Fresno: 55 Sacramento: 55. I don’t know why but I love this video of a sea otter getting its temperature taken. It looks scared about the results!
If you recall, I asked readers for music they listen to when they want some nostalgia in their lives. Here’s a submission by Natasha Sheridan:
I am a child of the ‘80s and my childhood wasn’t the greatest growing up super poor in San Diego’s welfare hood of East County. But it was there that my mother had her small music collection of Prince on vinyl and we would dance in the living room with the sun hitting our feet from the window. That was where my best memories were born. I have to say, I did cry as an adult in my own living room in southern Oregon, when I found out Prince was no longer with us. Somehow I felt those fond memories dancing with my mother were threatened with the passing of a legend. Fast forward to current day, my guilty pleasure as an adult is to reacquire all those Prince records on vinyl to help fulfill my birthright. My mother did end up selling all Prince’s beautiful albums at a garage sale to some guy with a huge Afro who knew he scored the mother lode for pennies on the dollar! I couldn’t have been more angry at my mother when I was 12 years old! But now, in my 40s, paying way too much for vinyl, I am slowly acquiring back that inheritance and sending text messages with pictures to my mother and the caption “slowly getting my birthright back.” It has become an inside joke between her and I, that we now laugh about over the phone. Also, I did just score Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” and I didn’t have to take out a loan to purchase it!
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