A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges arising from an audacious heist at a marijuana warehouse.
In a plea agreement he signed this month, Deputy Marc Antrim admitted to the elaborate ruse in which he and a team of accomplices posed as narcotics deputies on a legitimate raid in order to steal more than half a ton of marijuana and safes filled with cash.
Antrim, a patrol deputy in the sheriff's Temple City station, and two other men were arrested in November, not long after they carried out the robbery in the early-morning hours of Oct. 29. One of the other men, Kevin McBride, 43, also signed a plea deal; an attorney for the third man, Eric Rodriguez, said he is in talks with prosecutors to do the same.
Sentencing laws require U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips to send Antrim to prison for a minimum of 12 years for two of the five crimes to which he has confessed, according to the plea agreement. No court hearings have been set yet for the men to enter pleas and be sentenced.
The agreement also requires Antrim to forfeit a Mercedes sedan and other property or cash he’s found to have acquired as part of his “illegal activity.”
Attorneys for Antrim and McBride, who have been in custody since their arrests, did not return calls for comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna declined to answer questions about the plea agreement, in which Antrim acknowledged he had used his job to carry out illegal searches and seizures of cash and narcotics on at least four other occasions.
A spokeswoman for Sheriff Alex Villanueva also declined to comment on the plea deal or the earlier episodes.
The scam kicked off when Antrim, 41, of South El Monte, took a department SUV from his station and picked up McBride and another man, whom authorities have not identified, court records show. Antrim was off-duty at the time.
Dressed in sheriff’s jackets and brandishing weapons, the men drove to a warehouse near downtown Los Angeles that housed a legal marijuana distribution company. At the security gate, Antrim showed a guard a bogus search warrant he had concocted and then locked the guard and two other employees in back of the SUV, the plea agreement said.
A rental truck driven by another unnamed suspect arrived shortly after and the men began loading boxes and bags filled with marijuana that had been packaged for shipment, prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement.
Someone, however, had called the Los Angeles Police Department, which patrols the warehouse location. Around 3:45 a.m., several LAPD officers arrived, court records show. As the other men fled out the back of the warehouse, shedding their gear and jackets, Antrim remained. He told the officers he was serving a warrant and put one of the officers on the phone with a man who he claimed was his supervisor. The LAPD officers soon left, according to court records.
McBride soon returned and Rodriguez arrived with another unnamed man in a pickup truck. They went to work loading the trucks with over 1,200 pounds of marijuana and two large safes with more than $600,000 in cash and $30,000 worth of money orders inside, the plea agreement said.
Antrim and the others did not cover their tracks well.
A few days after the robbery, an attorney for the marijuana business contacted the Sheriff’s Department and handed over footage from several security cameras, court documents show.
A GPS device on the rented moving truck led authorities to McBride’s house in Glendora, where they found two pounds of marijuana, a loaded Beretta handgun registered to Antrim, ammunition that is issued to law enforcement officers and a flashlight with Antrim’s name on it, court records show. They also recovered $150,000 to $200,000 in cash.
A search of the house Antrim rents turned up a similar amount of cash and a cache of four firearms, which included a double-barrel shotgun and a “submachine gun-style firearm,” court records said.