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Ringleader Convicted in Home Invasion Robbery

November 20, 1998

SAN FERNANDO — A fierce, five-year legal battle between prosecutors and the mastermind of a home invasion bank robbery ring finally ended in conviction Thursday, years after his crime partners were found guilty and imprisoned for the same crimes.

In two prior trials, Alex Yepes had successfully argued that he was wrongly accused by the real robbers, supplying a friend, his wife, and concert tickets as alibis.

A federal jury acquitted him in 1994, but in a controversial move, the Los Angeles district attorney's office responded by filing state charges for the same crimes. Still, Yepes, 28, prevailed in a 1997 trial, when a lone juror who believed his alibi forced a mistrial on a vast majority of the charges against him.

The jury found Yepes guilty of a Canyon Country incident in which he and his partners held a bank officer and eight relatives hostage at gunpoint in her home, then forced her to open the bank vault the next morning. Those charges alone carry a sentence of 20 to 30 years plus life in prison, Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Chasworth said.

The jury continues to deliberate charges stemming from a similar Northridge incident and an attempted robbery at the same Canyon Country bank, which could net Yepes an additional decade to life in prison.

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