July 26, 2013

All in the Family

Part 2: On the Trail of Armored Car Robbers

Armored Car in Motion

Beginning in 1995, the Cabello family—husband Archie, wife Marian, and son Vincent—had managed to steal nearly $4 million in cash from armored car companies in three robberies over a period of 10 years, all while eluding authorities. But their crimes were about to earn them something they hadn’t bargained for—justice.

Our agents had suspected the family since a 2005 Portland, Oregon armored car robbery in which $3 million in cash was stolen, but there was not enough evidence to charge the Cabellos with the crime—that is, until we started to follow their spending habits.

“They were spending money they didn’t have,” said Special Agent Kenneth O’Connor, who joined the case in 2008 from our Portland Division. “They bought things and paid rent and utilities with more than 50 credit cards, and then used money orders purchased with the stolen cash to pay off the credit cards.”

O’Connor knew the case would require a lot of sophisticated financial investigation, so he asked the Internal Revenue Service for assistance. “I knew the IRS was well-versed in that kind of work,” O’Connor said, “and from the beginning, it was a great partnership.”

The joint investigation revealed that the Cabellos had spent more than $245,000 between 2006 and 2009 but claimed less than $35,000 in income on tax returns. The family had hoped to avoid suspicion by sticking to mostly small-scale purchases like cigars, running shoes, and used vehicles—but the numbers didn’t lie.

A few days before the statute of limitations ran out in December 2010, a federal grand jury handed down a 51-count indictment accusing Archie, Vincent, and Marian of conspiring to stage the Portland robbery and the two Milwaukee thefts and to launder the proceeds. Though released pending trial, the three were ordered to surrender their passports and wear electronic monitoring devices.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland did an outstanding job of devising a prosecution strategy and presenting evidence to the grand jury about all the robberies,” O’Connor explained, “so that everyone understood how brazen and far-reaching these crimes were.”

In February 2012, Vincent—who had started to turn his life around while on pretrial release, taking college classes and getting engaged to be married—began cooperating and led investigators to nearly $2 million in cash in a safe deposit box.

“That was a critical point in the case,” O’Connor said. “The safe deposit box was set up under an assumed name—there was nothing that connected it to the family, and we hadn’t discovered it.”

Faced with more than 30,000 pages of evidence against him plus the testimony of his co-conspirators (Marian had also eventually agreed to testify against her husband), Archie pled guilty to each of the eight substantive counts the morning his trial was set to begin. In March 2013, a judge sentenced him to 20 years in federal prison for his role in the decade-long crime spree. Marian and Vincent each received 15-month sentences. The family was ordered to pay restitution of nearly $4 million to the victims of the thefts.

“Most Americans get by with hard work and sacrifice,” said FBI Portland Special Agent in Charge Greg Fowler at the time of the sentencing. “The Cabellos spent years scamming the system, stealing millions of dollars to pay their bills. Now they are rightly being held accountable for their crimes thanks to the great partnership between the FBI and the IRS.”