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Former Teller Pleads Guilty to Role in Bank Robbery

July 15, 1999|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former bank teller pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping her lover, a Los Angeles police officer, rob $722,000 from a Bank of America branch near the USC campus.

Errolyn Romero, 27, entered her plea a week before she was scheduled to go on trial a second time on charges of conspiring with former LAPD Officer David Mack to rob the bank's Jefferson Boulevard branch on Nov. 6, 1997.

Mack, 38, was convicted of the crime earlier this year and is awaiting sentencing. Romero was tried separately, but a mistrial was declared when her jury hung 11-1 for conviction.

In a deal with the prosecution, Romero entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Robert M. Takasugi to one count of conspiracy to commit a bank robbery. Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen G. Wolfe said the government agreed to drop charges of bank robbery and using a firearm during a robbery.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Romero faces a likely term of 46 to 57 months in prison. She could have received a 10- to 11-year term if she had gone to trial and been convicted. Wolfe said the prosecution agreed to a reduced sentence for Romero because of evidence that Mack exercised considerable control over her.

Romero was accused of ordering an unusually large amount of cash for the branch on the day of the robbery and allowing Mack through two security doors.

During her first trial, she testified that she knew nothing about the robbery until Mack appeared in the bank that morning, flashed an automatic weapon and demanded access to the vault. She said she allowed him past the security doors because she feared he would shoot up the bank.

Romero said she began having an affair with Mack, a married man, when she was 19, and that during their stormy relationship he often threatened to kill her. She implicated him, however, after she failed a polygraph test about the robbery.

Most of the stolen $722,000 has not been recovered. FBI agents are also still looking for two men who helped Mack carry out the robbery, a masked gunman who entered the bank branch with Mack and the driver of a stolen getaway van.

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