One of three men accused of being the “Market Duo Bandits” pleaded guilty today to five bank robberies and fleeing police.
Paul Acosta Jr., 30, of Los Angeles, was the mastermind of the stickups, according to prosecutors. He participated in all five bank robberies, with Andres Soto Jr. allegedly along for four and Richard Valdez allegedly involved in the final one, prosecutors said.
A trial date today for Soto, 52, of Whittier, and Valdez, 54, of La Habra, was rescheduled for Wednesday.
The “Market Duo” bandits earned the nickname because they targeted bank branches in grocery stores.
Valdez and Acosta allegedly held up a Wells Fargo branch in a Stater Bros. grocery store at 1111 Imperial Highway in Placentia on Jan. 5, 2012, according to prosecutors.
Acosta and Soto allegedly robbed the same bank Nov. 21, 2011, prosecutors said.
The Market Duo bandits were suspected of robbing a U.S. Bank branch at 2101 W. Imperial Highway in La Habra on Oct. 25, 2011, and another U.S. Bank branch inside a Pavillons at 1101 Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach on Nov. 3, 2011, according to the FBI.
Acosta and Soto were also charged with robbing a U.S. Bank branch in Lake Forest at 22831 Lake Forest Dr. on Dec. 10, 2011, according to prosecutors.
Acosta and Valdez allegedly took $3,152 in the final haul from the Stater Bros. branch in Placentia on Jan. 5, 2012, prosecutors said.
After the Jan. 5, 2012, stickup, a high-speed police chase ensued from Placentia, ending in Paramount with Acosta being shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, according to Placentia police.
Acosta was “cooperative” with authorities since his arrest, FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking said. He pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree robbery and one count of evading police, all felonies, according to court records.
Soto is charged with 10 felony counts of second-degree robbery and four counts of second-degree commercial burglary, prosecutors said. Soto has a prior conviction for residential burglary in September 1983 and a 1993 bank robbery, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Valdez is charged with two felony counts of second-degree robbery and a felony count of second-degree commercial burglary. He has prior convictions in April 1983 for robbery and May 2003 for assault with a deadly weapon, according to prosecutors.
--City News Service