Any body know this guy?
Man guilty of bank heist plan
He wanted to use explosives to throw security off his trail
MELISSA MANWARE[email protected]
A Charlotte man has been convicted of concocting a brazen plan to rob a Bank of America branch in Founders Hall. His plan included throwing Molotov cocktails into a branch across Tryon Street to cause a distraction.
Bernaldino Munoz-Mendez, 31, faces at least 35 years in prison and, because he is an illegal immigrant, will be deported back to Belize after serving his sentence. He was in the Mecklenburg County jail late Friday; a date for his sentencing hearing had not been set.
Munoz-Mendez was convicted Tuesday at the end of a day-and-a-half trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Zolot said.
As first reported by the Observer's news partner WCNC, Munoz-Mendez was found guilty of attempted bank robbery, illegal alien in possession of a destructive device, possession of an incendiary device during and in furtherance of a bank robbery attempt, possession of an unregistered explosive device, and attempted destruction of real property by use of an explosive.
Munoz-Mendez was arrested Nov. 17, the day before he planned to rob the bank, Zolot said.
The FBI began investigating Munoz-Mendez on Nov. 5, the day after someone reported hearing him in an uptown bar bragging about a bank robbery he was planning, Zolot said. An undercover FBI agent wearing a recording device met Munoz-Mendez days later and got him to detail his plan.
In court, the agent testified that Munoz-Mendez said he was going to rob the Bank of America branch on the second floor of Founders Hall.
He asked the undercover agent to throw a bomb into the branch across the street at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 18. He told the undercover agent the distraction would send police and security to the branch, and then he would rob the smaller branch inside Founders Hall. If they resisted, he said, he would shoot security guards to wound but not kill them.
He planned to go into the vault and teller drawers, and witnesses told the jury he expected to get $100,000, Zolot said.
To escape, witnesses testified that Munoz-Mendez planned to drop a bag containing the money, his gun and his disguise from a parking deck to an accomplice waiting in a car below. From there, he would go back into Founders Hall and then casually walk out. He also planned to walk or take the trolley out of uptown.
Zolot said witnesses testified that Munoz-Mendez drew a diagram and walked the route with the undercover officer.
The prosecutor said all of Munoz-Mendez's "accomplices" were actually working for the FBI.
The FBI agent videotaped Munoz-Mendez in a field making Molotov cocktails out of kerosene, malt liquor bottles and T-shirts. Zolot said the undercover agent convinced him to allow the recording by saying he would use it to teach others to make the explosives.
Munoz-Mendez was arrested in that field after making the cocktails, Zolot said. The undercover agent, who was wearing a microphone, gave waiting authorities a verbal signal: "This ought to warm things up," he said.