Purported Gang Member Charged In $390,000 CU Heist

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – A 28-year-old suspected gang member pleaded not guilty yesterday to the April 22 armed robbery of $390,000 at Bay FCU, one of the biggest credit union hold-ups ever.

A surveillance video at the credit union captured images of Michael Escobar and an unidentified accomplice wearing bandanas over their faces and brandishing handguns around 1:15 pm on a Friday and ordering 10 credit union members to the ground, as the tellers rounded up the cash, according to police. As they fled, Escobar fired a shot that hit a lower frame of one of the counters in the credit union, police said. A third person drove the getaway car. Neither of the other suspects have been apprehended.

Police said $35,000 of cash traced to the credit union was found at Escobar's home in Watsonville after the robbery.

Escobar has a history of gang activity, according to police. In 2009 he was shot in the leg at a party by a rival gang member, after which his younger brother and fellow gang member Julian Escobar retaliated by killing his alleged assailant. The younger Escobar was convicted of murder last month for the killing and is awaiting sentencing.

Michael Escobar pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery, being a gang member, committing a robbery to benefit a gang and personal use of a firearm.


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