By Fred Shuster
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy and another man pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges stemming from the armed robbery of more than a half-ton of marijuana and $645,000 in cash and money orders from a downtown Los Angeles warehouse.
Deputy Marc Antrim, 41, of South El Monte, entered his plea in Los Angeles federal court to five felonies, including conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and deprivation of rights under color of law. He also agreed to forfeit a Mercedes-Benz sedan and cash and money orders taken in the robbery.
Antrim faces at least a dozen years behind bars at sentencing, according to his plea agreement, but the penalty is ultimately up to the judge.
Hours later, one of Antrim's five co-defendants—Eric "Rooster" Rodriguez, 33, of Adelanto—pleaded guilty to conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and being a felon in possession of a gun.
Rodriguez, who was previously convicted in state court of second- degree burglary, possession of marijuana for sale and assault with a deadly weapon, faces between five years and life behind bars, according to federal prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips set a June 3 sentencing hearing for both Antrim and Rodriguez.
Also facing charges in the case are Kevin McBride, 43—who has signed a plea agreement—Matthew James "Neer" Perez, 42, of Ontario, Daniel Aguilera, 31, of East Los Angeles, and Jay Colby "Monte Jay" Sanford, 41, of Pomona.
According to federal prosecutors, Perez, Aguilera and Sanford conspired with Antrim and the others to commit the early morning armed robbery on Oct. 29. The off-duty Antrim, along with Perez and a third man arrived at the warehouse before dawn in an unmarked Ford Explorer registered to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, prosecutors allege.
All three men were dressed as LASD deputies, carried holstered firearms and posed as legitimate law enforcement officers executing a search warrant of the warehouse, court documents state. Perez, a convicted felon, also allegedly brandished a rifle. The warehouse search was allegedly staged to look like law enforcement was executing a search warrant, according to federal prosecutors.
After Antrim detained the warehouse's three security guards inside the Ford Explorer, Aguilera allegedly drove into the warehouse parking lot in a large rental truck, which later was used to transport the stolen marijuana, two cash-filled safes and other items from the warehouse, according to court documents. During the robbery, Sanford allegedly served as a look-out, scouting for potential law enforcement and remaining in contact with his co-conspirators via phone and walkie-talkie radios.
While the two-hour robbery was in progress, Los Angeles Police Department officers legitimately responded to a call for service at the warehouse, the complaint states. When LAPD officers arrived, Perez and the other man posing as a deputy discarded their LASD jackets and fled through a back door, along with Aguilera, according to court documents. Antrim remained at the warehouse, showed the LAPD officers his LASD badge, and falsely claimed that he was conducting a legitimate search, according to court documents.
Antrim then handed his phone to one of the LAPD officers so that the officer could speak to someone claiming to be Antrim's LASD sergeant. However, the individual on the phone was not Antrim's sergeant, and Antrim did not have a legitimate search warrant for the warehouse.
Antrim's falsehoods ultimately prompted the LAPD officers to leave the warehouse, thereby allowing Antrim and his co-conspirators time to complete the heist, court documents state.
According to the complaint, text messages between Antrim and another conspirator suggest that, for their assistance on the night of the robbery, Perez was going to be paid $30,000, Sanford $10,000, and Aguilera $5,000.
Perez, Aguilera and Sanford are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. If convicted of this offense, each man would face between five and 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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