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2 Gang Members Charged in Thousand Oaks Bank Robbery

October 09, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Two more Los Angeles gang members were formally charged Wednesday in connection with the armed robbery of a Thousand Oaks bank last year, concluding a yearlong investigation that has resulted in the arrests of all five suspects, authorities said.

Donnie "Dog" Woods, 24, and Manor Washington, 18, were charged with the takeover-style robbery of Western Financial Bank on June 3, 2002. Woods was arrested Friday, and Washington was already in state prison for a bank robbery in Los Angeles, Ventura County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Stacy Ramer said.

One juvenile has been convicted in the Thousand Oaks robbery, and another is awaiting prosecution. A third suspect, Justin Scott, 29, of Los Angeles, is in custody and will be prosecuted in federal court for his alleged involvement in the robbery and on drug-related charges, Ramer said.

In addition to the robbery charge, Washington and Woods are charged with a special allegation that the crime was committed in association with and for the benefit of a criminal street gang, which could add another 10 years to their sentences if convicted, Ramer said. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Ramer said this is not the first time an L.A. street gang has been involved in a bank robbery in Ventura County. Some gang members target the suburbs because they believe they are less security conscious, she said.

"Unfortunately, it's becoming more common," she said. "One of the suspects mentioned that they were looking for a bank with close proximity to a freeway."

Western Financial Bank, on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, is one block from the Ventura Freeway. It was the scene of another robbery in 1997 in which a teller was killed.

Gang members were also believed to be involved in that robbery but were never caught, Ramer said. "It's good for the community to be aware that we're not immune from people coming in from outside the area" to commit crimes, she said. "We also want people to know that we are in dogged pursuit of these suspects."

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