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A Bank Manager Stole $4.3M. He Almost Got Away With It

Gerardo Adan Cazarez Valenzuela was done in by a random checkpoint in Mexico
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2019 10:35 AM CDT
Updated May 5, 2019 11:00 AM CDT
The cash was discovered at a checkpoint in Mexico.   (US Attorney's Office)

(Newser) – Gerardo Adan Cazarez Valenzuela knew the KeyBank branch in Anchorage, Alaska, well. He worked there as the bank's cash vault services manager and was aware of the security setup—which didn't include armed guards. And so a plan was born: In July 2011, he enabled the ability for one person to access the bank's vault; on July 28, he took $30,000 from it to pay for a chartered plane that would take him to Seattle, where his girlfriend was waiting for him. The following day he worked late under the ruse of cleaning up after an ice-cream event he had planned for customers, reports KTVA. He entered the vault, stuffed three boxes with $4.3 million over the course of 20 minutes, rolled them on a cart to his car, and began his journey to Mexico. He would get there—and go directly to jail. How his wild heist fell apart:

  • Upon arriving in Washington, Cazarez bought a Ford Fusion and spent $4,000 on an AK-47 and a handgun. The DOJ says in a press release that he mailed cellphones belonging to him and his girlfriend to Florida and New York to throw investigators off their trail.
  • By the time investigators caught wind of what had happened, Cazarez planned to be in Mexico: He had set a timer on the bank vault that would prevent it from being opened for six days. But he was felled by a random search of his luggage when the bus he was on from Tijuana to Sonora was stopped at a checkpoint.

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