For Immediate Release
March 21, 2014
Susan Kang Schroeder
“MARKET DUO” BANK ROBBER SENTENCED TOSIX YEARSIN PRISON FOR COMMITTING ROBBERIES IN FIVE ORANGE COUNTY BANKS
*Two co-defendants in this case have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing
SANTA ANA – A man, who was part of the group dubbed the “Market Duo” Bank Robbers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was sentenced today to six years in state prison for committing robberies in five Orange County banks and leading police on a high speed pursuit. Paul Acosta Jr., 30, Los Angeles, pleaded guilty Feb. 18, 2014, to five felony counts of second degree robbery, one felony count of evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, and sentencing enhancements for prior felony prison convictions for drug possession and theft in 2008 and 2010 in Los Angeles County. Acosta cooperated with law enforcement and testified against his two co-defendants during their jury trial.
Co-defendant Andres Soto Jr., 52, Whittier, was found guilty by a jury March 11, 2014, of eight felony counts of second degree robbery and four felony counts of second degree commercial burglary. Soto has prior strike violations committed in Los Angeles County for a residential burglary in 1983 and two bank robbery convictions in 1993. He faces a maximum sentence of 110 years to life in state prison at his sentencing May 9, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Richard Valdez, 54, La Habra was found guilty by a jury March 11, 2014, of two felony counts of second degree robbery and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. Valdez has prior strike convictions committed in Los Angeles County for a robbery in 1983, two robberies in 1987, and assault with a deadly weapon in 2003. Valdez faces a maximum sentence of 44 years to life in state prison at his sentencing May 9, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center.
Acosta and Soto planned four robberies that took place in the banks. Valdez was an acquaintance of Acosta and participated in their last bank robbery.
Between Oct. 25, 2011, and Dec. 10, 2011, Acosta and Soto entered three US Bank branches and a Wells Fargo bank in La Habra, Lake Forest, Placentia, and Seal Beach. Soto held a bag over his hand to simulate a gun while Acosta robbed tellers of money from inside the bank and fled the scene.
On Jan. 5, 2012, Acosta and Valdez entered the same Wells Fargo Bank in Placentia, in which Acosta and Soto had committed a robbery previously in November 2011. Acosta robbed money from a bank teller by holding a bag over his hand to simulate a gun while Valdez provided back-up.
As Acosta and Valdez fled the scene, they did not stop their vehicle when officers from the Anaheim Police Department (APD) tried to pull them over. The defendants led police on a high-speed pursuit southbound on California State Route 57 and westbound on California State Route 91, traveling at speeds over 100 mph from Orange County to Los Angeles County. An APD helicopter assisted in the pursuit while officers from Placentia and La Habra Police Departments, the Orange County Sherriff’s Department and the FBI pursued the defendants on the freeway.
The pursuit ended in Paramount, Los Angeles County, and Acosta was apprehended while trying to flee from the vehicle. Acosta was shot by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy, and a police canine was able to detain him. Acosta was transported to Saint Francis Medical Center in the City of Lynwood and was later released to Orange County jail. Valdez managed to evade officers and fled the scene following the pursuit.
The FBI Bank Robbery Apprehension Team, who dubbed the defendants the “Market Duo,” helped identify Soto and Valdez. Valdez was arrested by the FBI. Soto was arrested by La Habra police Jan. 18, 2012.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Lynda Fernandez of the Felony Panel is prosecuting this case.