Facebook posts lead to bank heist arrests
Two people charged in a staged Texas bank heist apparently didn't think twice when they typed messages in the "What's on your mind?" portion of their Facebook pages, court documents show.
"Get $$(;.," wrote bank employee Estefany Danelia Martinez, 19, two days before $62,201 was taken from the International Bank of Commerce in Houston, according to an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Kevin J. Katz.
According to the affidavit, filed with a criminal complaint in federal court this week, her boyfriend, Ricky Gonzalez, 18, wrote on his page on March 24, the day after the robbery, "Wipe my teeth with hundereds (sic)."
Those postings, plus an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip on March 30, landed the pair and two others in custody, according to the federal complaint. The tip advised there was information about the heist on Facebook.
Martinez's attorney said Friday the Facebook postings may show his client was immature and deserving of a short prison term or probation.
According to the Katz's affidavit, Martinez told authorities the amateurish scheme was hatched by another teller, Anna Margarita Rivera.
Rivera was a teller during a previous unsolved bank robbery "and believed staging the robbery would be easy," according to the affidavit.
"Martinez advised the plan was for herself and Rivera to pick a date where they would both be working the late shift and they would plan for the staged robbery to take place close to closing time, thus minimizing the chances of any customers being in the bank," according to the affidavit.
Gonzalez and Arturo Solano, Rivera's brother, were recruited, authorities said.
Bank surveillance video showed two masked and armed men entering the bank around 5:45 p.m. on March 23. They jumped over the counter and demanded money. One of the pistols later was determined to be fake.
One robber took money and the other ordered the tellers to place money from the vault in a bag, the FBI agent said. The tellers, the only people in the bank at the time of the robbery, remained in the vault and later called 911.
On March 24, Gonzalez wrote on his Facebook page, "U have to past the line sometimes!! To get dis money," the complaint says. Martinez allegedly wrote, "I'm rich" on Gonzalez's page on March 25.
Lance Hamm, an attorney for Gonzalez, told CNN that his client was not referring to the bank robbery in his Facebook posts. "I don't feel the Facebook thing is as relevant as everyone is making it to be," Hamm said.
"I think it was just young kids talking," said Hamm, adding Gonzalez, who could face 10 years in prison, has been "upfront" with investigators. "He knew he was in over his head."
Hamm said the incident was more akin to an employee theft. Gonzales was not a mastermind and his role "should be mitigated" in any prosecution, the lawyer said.
Richard Kuniansky, who represents Martinez, said the single mother has never been in trouble and likely will enter a plea, arguing her age and maturity should be factors in sentencing.
"They were young and immature and didn't appreciate the seriousness," he said.
CNN also left a message Friday with Rivera's lawyer. An attorney for Solano was not listed in court documents.
CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.