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Acquaintance of bank manager arrested in East L.A. bomb robbery

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An acquaintance of a bank manager who told authorities she was kidnapped and strapped with explosives as part of bizarre bank robbery in East L.A. has been arrested in connection with the crime, several law enforcement sources familiar with the incident said Wednesday.

Ray Vega, 33, of Bell was booked Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy and robbery in connection with the Sept. 5 crime. He was released from custody Friday after posting $100,000 bail.

Huntington Park police, who are handling the investigation, would not discuss details of the case or Vega’s possible role in the robbery. The sources, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said the bank manager, an East L.A. resident, and Vega knew each other but did not elaborate on the precise nature of their relationship.
Investigators have already searched the home of the bank manager, with her permission, and removed several boxes from the residence.

The woman told investigators she was abducted as she went to get in her car about 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 5.

She said two robbers forced her to wear what she believed was a bomb strapped to her chest. She was ordered to drive to the bank, where she subsequently removed a significant amount of cash from the vault and tossed it in a bag outside the branch’s back door.

The robbers were wearing masks, and there has been little description provided. One of them was armed with a gun, the bank manager told investigators.

The heist was considered very unusual. Bank managers are rarely kidnapped, experts said. Even rarer is the use of an explosive device, which was removed from her body inside the bank by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad technician and detonated.

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