Long Prison Term For Robber Who Cut Open CU ATM To Steal $80,000

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LOS ANGELES – One of three suspects charged with using a high-powered thermal lance to cut open a Los Angeles FCU ATM then empty the machine of almost $80,000 two years ago was sentenced in federal court yesterday to 190 months in prison and ordered to pay $124,000 restitution, which includes the damages to the ATM.

Clinton Thompson was convicted in May of conspiracy to use fire during the commission of a felony, bank larceny and use of fire during the commission of a felony in connection with the heist, one of a growing number of ATM thefts up and down the West Coast.

The thieves broke into the machine on Jan. 28, 2008, and used the torch to cut a money machine in half, according to federal prosecutors. 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.

Thompson and his co-conspirators were linked to the robbery after an El Monte police officer recalled stopping several men sitting in a car in a deserted Denny’s parking lot close to the credit union on the night of the robbery.

Tavrion Dawson, 37, was convicted along with Thompson of the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 27.

A third man, Samuel Eaton, is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 21.

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