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Monday, November 17, 2008

Three held in bank heist inspired by "Ocean's Eleven"

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

(11-14) 06:07 PST SAN JOSE -- Three men who allegedly staged an inside-job San Jose bank robbery after watching the movie "Ocean's Eleven" will be in court today.

Brian Tirao Deguzman and Allen Tam Vu, both 25, and Armando Anaya Mendez, 22, were arrested Wednesday evening for allegedly stealing $100,000 from the Wells Fargo branch inside the Safeway store at 3202 Story Road.

Deguzman is the branch manager and Mendez is an employee. Police said Vu played the role of the robber and was escorted into the back of the bank and given the money by the others.

The suspects said they hatched the robbery plan after watching "Ocean's Eleven," in which Danny Ocean, portrayed by George Clooney, and his cohorts, including those played by Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, devise a plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time.

All three suspects are being held in lieu of $1 million at Santa Clara County Jail and are scheduled to appear today in Superior Court.

The holdup is at least the fourth such case in Northern California in which current or former bank employees have been implicated.

In July, a Union Bank employee took $15,000 from his vault, put it in his teller drawer and had a friend "rob" him, federal prosecutors said.

Similar "inside job" bank robberies occurred at a San Francisco credit union on Aug. 6 and at a Salinas bank on July 5 in which current or former tellers were implicated and charged in federal court, authorities said.