LOS ANGELES >> A San Dimas mad who formerly served as vice president of an Ontario-based tool company received a sentence of more than 5 years in federal prison Wednesday for a $9.6 million bank fraud scheme, authorities said.
Chung Yu Yeung, 39, pleaded guilty in late-March to four counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
At his sentencing hearing Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder sentenced Yeung to 63 months in prison and ordered him to pay $9,618,908 in restitution to his victim, East West Bank, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
He was also ordered to forfeit a property in San Dimas that he purchased “with proceeds of the scheme,” Mrozek said.
Yeung previously admitted that while working at Eastern Tools and Equipment Inc., Yeung admitted that he and his co-conspirators defrauded East West Bank by misrepresenting the company’s accounts receivable and financial statements in order to obtain loans the company otherwise would not have been able to get, Mrozek explained.
“The conspirators created numerous shell corporations to act as purported suppliers and retailers doing business with Eastern Tools, when, in reality, these shell corporations were entirely under the control of Yeung and existed for the sole purpose of creating the illusion of such business,” Mrozek said. “Yeung also admitted that the fictitious companies allowed Yeung and other conspirators to falsely inflate Eastern Tools’ accounts receivable and financial statements in representations to East West Bank.”
“Yeung created companies and profits that were nothing but illusions, tricking a bank into loaning him millions of dollars,” U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California Eileen M. Decker said. “This was a sophisticated crime that caused substantial losses, warranting the punishment imposed by the Court today.”
Yeung’s co-defendant in the case, former Eastern Tools president Guo Xiang Fan, remains a fugitive, Mrozek said.
IRS Criminal Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando described the scene as “truly astounding.”
“(It) illustrates the lengths to which fraudsters will go to game the financial system for personal gain. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners by lending our financial expertise in these complex investigations,” he said.
Recent takeover robberies at banks in Arcadia, San Marino and Santa Monica have been linked to a pair of serial robbers the FBI has dubbed, “The Palm Tree Bandits,” authorities said Friday.
The robbers, who earned their moniker due to baseball caps emblazoned with palm tree logos they wore during the crimes, struck Thursday at a First Bank branch, 848 W. Duarte Road in Arcadia, as well as July 28 at a One West Bank at 900 Huntington Drive in San Marino, and July 18 at a Banc of California at 2635 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, FBI officials said in a written statement.
The FBI described the crimes as “violent takeover robberies.” “They are considered armed and dangerous,” according to the FBI statement. “At least one suspect brandishes a handgun during the robberies.”
In Thursday’s robbery in Arcadia, the robbers donned surgical masks, latex gloves and orange construction vests during the heist. In other robberies, the robbers’ faces were uncovered and recorded by bank surveillance cameras.
Both robbers were armed with handguns during the Arcadia crime, Lt. Tom Cullen said.
In the San Marino robbery, only one of the robbers was seen with a gun, San Marino police Detective Brian Wong said. The suspect fled the area in a red SUV. The FBI has teamed with Arcadia, San Marino and Santa Monica police in the investigation.
Officials described the bandits as two black men between 20 and 30 years old.
One is about 5 feet 9 inches tall and of thin build. The second robber is of heavy build.
Anyone with information is asked to contact local police, or the FBI’s 24-hour Los Angeles-area tip line at 310-477-6565.
ARCADIA >> Two men wearing surgical masks and orange construction vests robbed an Arcadia bank branch Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The heist took place about 1:15 p.m. at the First Bank, 848 W. Duarte Road, according to Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen.
Both robbers brandished handguns as they demanded cash from a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, the lieutenant said.
They were last seen running from the bank. No getaway car was seen.
Police described both robbers as black men, between 20 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and of thin build. According to initial reports from the scene, they wore surgical style masks, latex gloves and orange construction-style vests.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Arcadia police at 626-674-5151 in reference to case 1604107. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
SAN MARINO >> Police in San Marino are seeking two men who carried out an armed bank robbery Thursday afternoon.
The robbery took place at 1:52 p.m. at One West Bank, 900 Huntington Drive, according to San Marino police Detective Brian Wong.
The two robbers entered the bank and one of them pulled a handgun and pointed at a teller working behind the counter, Wong said in a written statement.
“The victim backed up and (the gunman) jumped over the counter and removed currency from several bank drawers,” Wong said. “(He then jumped back over the counter and both suspects fled out the same front door.”
Both robbers fled the scene in a red SUV with an undisclosed amount of cash, he said.
Police described both robbers as black men, between 20 and 30 years old.
One was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of thin build, wearing a light-colored long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap with an unknown logo on the front. The second robber was heavy-set, wearing a light-colored shirt, tan shorts and a baseball cap.
The FBI joined San Marino police in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Wong at 626-300-0719. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
RIVERSIDE >> A suspected serial bank robber the FBI is calling the “We’re Listening Bandit,” accused of six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, is behind bars after police in Riverside found and arrested him this week, authorities said.
Jeffery Tuli, 33, of San Bernardino is suspected in six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout the region, as well as two additional robberies in Moreno Valley since late-June, according to Moreno Valley police and FBI officials.
Moreno Valley police tracked him down and arrested him about 3 p.m. Thursday in a parking lot in the 8900 block of Trautwein Road, Moreno Valley police Sgt. Aaron Kent said in a written statement.
“Several items of evidence were located in Tuli’s vehicle,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Tuli began his alleged crime spree in on June 21 with a failed robbery at a Wells Fargo branch in Highland, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
He then robbed a Fontana U.S. Bank on July 9 and a Moreno Valley Chase bank on July 12, Eimiller said. The “We’re Listening Bandit” then tried, but failed, to rob a Whittier Wells Fargo branch on July 13 before successfully robbing a Wells Fargo in Moreno Valley on July 14, and a Riverside Union Bank on the same say, she said.
The one-man crime wave continued Wednesday, when Tuli robbed two people at gunpoint as they sat in a car in Moreno Valley, Kent said. Twenty minutes later, he robbed a Moreno Valley business at gunpoint.
Moreno Valley police identified Tuli as a suspect in the crimes in their jurisdiction and learned that the same man was sought in connection with other robberies throughout Southern California, Kent said.
The “We’re Listening Bandit” earned his moniker due to demand notes passed to tellers during the bank robberies, threatening that he or “others” will be watching the victims, Eimiller said.
According to Riverside County booking records, Tuli was being held in lieu of $1 million pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in the Riverside Hall of Justice.
PHOTOS: [TOP] Booking mug of Jeffery Tuli, 33, of San Bernardino, courtesy of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. [BELOW] Bank surveillance photo courtesy of the FBI.
The FBI is hunting a new serial bank robber who’s embarked on a spate of six bank robberies and attempted bank robberies throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in recent weeks.
The “We’re Listening Bandit,” as he’s been christened by the FBI, has showed up at bank Whittier, Fontana, Highland, Moreno Valley and Riverside since late-June, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. The serial robber generally passes a note to bank tellers demanding money and stating that he and others may be “listening” and following them, Eimiller said.
He claims to be armed with a bomb or a gun, and was seen carrying one in an envelope during at least once of the crimes, officials said.
The robber’s notes also make statements such as, “Dot not move, be quick and quiet,” she said.
Crimes linked to the unidentified suspect include a July 14 robbery at a Union Bank in Riverside; another robbery at a Moreno Valley Wells Fargo the same day; a failed robbery at a Whittier Wells Fargo branch on July 13; a robbery at a Moreno Valley Chase bank on July 12; a robbery at a Fontana U.S. Bank branch on July 9; and a failed heist at a Highland Wells Fargo branch on June 21.
Investigators described the bandit as a black or Latino man in his 30s, of average to heavy build, with a scruffy beard. He wore sunglasses and various hats during the crimes.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI’s Los Angeles office at 888-226-8443.
WHITTIER >> An armed man tried to rob a bank branch inside a Whittier supermarket Wednesday, but ultimately fled empty-handed, authorities said.
The failed crime took place about 6:15 p.m. at a Wells Fargo branch inside of a Ralphs at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said.
“The suspect came up posing as a customer, waited his turn, then passed a note demanding money,” the lieutenant said.
The would-be robber also brandished a handgun, which he carried inside a manila envelope.
But the gunman apparently became nervous and fled the bank without receiving any money, Tatman said. A bullet-proof barrier separates the bank tellers from the customer area at the bank branch.
Police described the gunman as about 35 years old, with a dark complexion, wearing a white canvas fisherman’s hat, sunglasses, a royal blue long-sleeve shirt and dark pants.
Detectives were looking into whether a getaway car was involved in the failed heist.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LOS ANGELES >> A San Dimas man who served as vice president of an Ontario tool wholesale company on Wednesday admitted to federal charges of defrauding a Pasadena-based bank out of more than $9 million, authorities said.
Chung Yu Yeung, also known as Louis Yeung, 39, served as vice president of Ontario-based Eastern Tools and Equipment Inc., U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
At an appearance Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, Yeung admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, Mrozek said. He was scheduled to return to court June 20 to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder.
Between 2007 and 2012, Yeung admitted to setting up a network of shell companies, controlled by himself, to give the false illusion that Easter Tools was conducting far more business than he really was, officials said.
“Yeung admitted that the fictitious companies allowed him and other conspirators to falsely inflate Eastern Tools’ accounts receivable and financial statements in representations to East West Bank,” according to Mrozek.
After using fraudulent documents to boost his business’ line of credit, “Eastern Tools defaulted on the promissory note after East West Bank discovered the fraud, causing more than $9 million in losses to the bank, Mrozek said.
FBI and IRS agents conducted the investigation.
“This defendant went to great lengths to create the illusion of business that defrauded the victim bank out of millions, but law enforcement was able to penetrate the illusion,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said. “Crimes like these can threaten the stability of our financial institutions and therefore our national economy.”
Yeung was arrested in connection with the investigation in April of 2015. Alleged co-conspirator and Eastern Tools and former Equipment President Guo Xiang “David” Fan, 53, is also named in the same indictment charging Yeung. He remains at large.
PASADENA >> Police are seeking a man who robbed a Pasadena bank branch Tuesday afternoon.
The crime took place about 1:40 p.m. at a Chase branch at 2670 block of East Colorado Boulevard, just west of San Gabriel Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
“The robber entered the bank and got into the teller line,” Luna said. “Upon reaching the teller window, he presented a note demanding money and saying he was armed.”
Police said the teller handed over an undetermined amount of cash before the suspect fled. He was last seen on foot.
He was described as black man between 28 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 4 inches tall, of average build, wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and dark-colored shoes, Luna said. Officers searched the area but did not find the robber.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
A man in a black baseball cap embarked on a two-county robbery spree in recent weeks, holding up or trying to hold up Citibank branches in Glendora, Arcadia and Placentia in recent weeks, authorities said. Glendora police released surveillance images of the robber Wednesday in hopes of generating tips from the public as to the mystery bandit’s identity. He’s robbed in both Los Angeles and Orange counties.
“We’re hoping someone recognized this person,” Glendora police Detective Russell Ziino said.
The robber first showed up about 4:50 p.m. on Feb. 29 at Citibank, 401 E. Arrow Highway in Glendora, police said.
“(He) handed the teller a demand note that stated he had a gun. No gun was seen,” Glendora police said in a written statement. “The teller handed him an undisclosed amount of money and the suspect left.”
The serial bandit again turned up about 12:40 p.m. on March 4 at a Citibank branch at 1300 N. Kraemer Blvd. in Placentia, police said. He handed a teller a similar note and fled with an undisclosed amount of money. Just over four hours later, the same robber entered a Citibank branch at 100 S. First Ave. in Arcadia and attempted the same type of robbery.
“The teller in this case feared for his life and went to the back of the bank,” according to the police statement. “The suspect left with no cash.”
The notes presented by the robber were scribbled with messages to the effect of: “Don’t talk. I have a gun. Give me the money,” Ziino said. Though he always threatened to be armed, no gun has been seen during the crimes.
The yet-unnamed serial bandit is described as a white man, about 25 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 130 pounds, with green eyes and a scar on his right eyelid.
In all three incidents, he wore a black baseball cap, Ziino added. No getaway car has been linked to the robber. Anyone with information can reach Glendora police at 626-914-8250. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS: [TOP] Authorities seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Glendora on Feb. 29, 2016. [MIDDLE] Authorities are seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Placentia on March 4, 2016. [BELOW] Authorities are seeking the serial bank robber pictured during a heist at a Citibank branch in Arcadia on March 4, 2016. (Courtesy, Glendora Police Department)