Blow Torch Used To Cut Open CU ATM

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LOS ANGELES – A career criminal who helped steal nearly $80,000 by using a high-powered thermal lance to cut open a Los Angeles FCU ATM was sentenced yesterday to 148 months in prison and ordered to pay a share of nearly $400,000 in restitution.

Christopher Dean Williams, 48, was one of several men involved in robbing a credit union machine in El Monte on Jan. 28, 2008, using the torch to cut the money machine in half. Burnt $20 bills were left scattered on the ground.

A thermal lance, also known as a burning bar, is an industrial tool that uses the oxidization of iron to generate very high temperatures for cutting through just about anything, including rock.

Judge John Walter said Williams had given “substantial assistance” to prosecutors and testified against three co-defendants, leading to their convictions. The judge described Williams as “a career criminal” who has ‘been in and out of jail for his whole life,” largely due to his addiction to cocaine.

Two of three men convicted in the robbery already are serving federal prison time, while the third is set to be sentenced next month. Clinton Thompson, 48, of Gardena, is serving 190 months following his conviction of conspiracy to use fire during the commission of a felony, bank larceny and use of fire during the commission of a felony. Tavrion Dawson, 37, of Compton, who was convicted along with Thompson, is serving 171 months. Samuel Eaton is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2.


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