Friday, October 30, 2009

“Wig Bandit” Bank Robbers Sentenced to 18 and 20 Years in Federal Prison

Two of the so-called “Wig Bandits,” bank robbers who donned wigs during the commission of armed bank robberies, have been sentenced to federal prison by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell. Andrei Ulisses Chavez, 25, and Francisco Javier Serrano, 23, both Mexican citizens living in Phoenix, each pleaded guilty in June 2009, to one count of Armed Bank Robbery and one count of Use of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence.

Serrano was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in federal prison. Chavez was sentenced in September 2009 to 18 years in federal prison. Four co-defendants are pending sentencing after pleading guilty for each of their roles in the robberies. A final co-defendant is pending trial.

“I applaud the continued success of federal and local law enforcement agencies in bringing bank robbers to justice,” stated U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “These sentences reflect the violent nature of this type of crime.”

“These sentences illustrate the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partners and the FBI,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Nathan T. Gray, Phoenix Division. “The Glendale and Phoenix Police Departments were instrumental in the investigation of the ‘Wig Bandits.’ When you reduce the number of violent takeover type bank robbers, it makes our communities safer. We remain committed to reducing the number of robberies in the Valley by working with our prosecuting partners at the County and Federal levels.”

In addition to the co-defendants who are pending sentencing, one additional co-defendant is pending trial. Julio Cesar Feliciano, Jr., 45, of Phoenix, is charged with five armed bank robberies involving multiple firearms and is set for trial beginning November 10, 2009, before Judge Campbell. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Glendale, Phoenix, and Avondale Police Departments. The prosecution is being handled by Alison S. Bachus and Dimitra H. Sampson, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-338(Chavez & Serrano)

Source: FBI Phoenix Office

Thursday, October 29, 2009

planPHX - Big Question #2‏


Go to
and go to Events to find a Visioning Workshop during the month of November.

The Phoenix Central Neighborhood Association participates in the Encanto Village group.

Source: City of Phoenix Planning Department

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Man Accused of Sexual Assault During Harboring Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison‏

Feliciano Rojas-Vivar, aka Ruben Lopez-Lopez, 53, of Pueblas, Mexico, was sentenced on October 23, 2009, by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone to 15 years in federal prison. Rojas-Vivar pleaded guilty to three counts of Harboring Illegal Aliens for Profit at his Phoenix residence in 2007. His step-son, Juan Daniel Rojas-Perez, 30, also of Pueblas, Mexico, was sentenced on March 23, 2009, by Judge Martone to 46 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Harbor Aliens.

In November 2007, Rojas-Vivar and Rojas-Perez worked together to harbor illegal aliens at a house owned by Rojas-Vivar. One of the aliens held at the residence was a juvenile female and at sentencing, Judge Martone found that there was credible evidence that Rojas-Vivar sexually assaulted her during the harboring. His step-son was not involved with the sexual assault. Both men had lived in the U.S. for an extended period of time and Rojas-Vivar had a history of alien smuggling. During sentencing, the judge stated that Rojas-Vivar had imposed a “reign of terror” on the juvenile victim and that his extreme conduct was unusually degrading.

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with assistance provided by the Phoenix Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Lisa Jennis Settel, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-335(Rojas-Vivar)

Source: FBI Phoenix Office

FBI Task Force Arrests Serial Bank Robber Based on Tip to Scottsdale Police‏

FBI agents and Scottsdale police officers arrested Michael Yanni, 26, of Phoenix, today for allegedly robbing eight banks in a 12-month time period in 2006 and 2007. Yanni was charged by a criminal complaint and made his initial appearance in federal court at 3:00 p.m. today. He will be detained pending a detention hearing set for Thursday, October 29th at 1:30 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, an anonymous caller left a message for the Scottsdale Police Department on their TIP line in December 2008. Based on details provided by the caller, the Task Force investigated the case for 10 months. They located and spoke with victim tellers and witnesses, and showed them lineups to see if they could identify Yanni as the bank robber. Yanni, formerly of Scottsdale, was identified in all eight banks. Today, the Task Force located Yanni and arrested him without incident at his residence in Phoenix.

The complaint alleges that Yanni committed eight bank robberies in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Carefree and Marana, Ariz., between June 13, 2006, and June 29, 2007. He typically wore a bandana and mirrored aviator sunglasses. Also according to the complaint, after asking the victim tellers for money, he frequently asked them to “do it quietly.”

“The Violent Crime/Bank Robbery Task Force has been extremely successful in bringing bank robbers to justice,” stated U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “When federal, state, and local law enforcement create and maintain partnerships to target specific crime, and the residents of Arizona also provide information, the result is safer communities.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Nathan T. Gray, Phoenix Division, stated that, “The arrest of Michael Yanni by the FBI’s Bank Robbery Task Force is another fine example of the commitment and professionalism of task force members who represent their respective law enforcement agencies. Our law enforcement partners have been instrumental in the effectiveness of the bank robbery task force in its efforts to reduce bank robberies in the Valley. In addition, we are grateful to the public for its willingness to get involved and assist the law enforcement community.”

After countless hours of investigation leading to the arrest of Yanni, Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell stated, “The entire investigation is like a puzzle with many pieces. When we are looking for that final piece that a member of our community is holding, we greatly appreciate their cooperation in partnering with us. This case is a prime example of how the public can partner with us to remove a criminal from our streets.”

There have been 183 bank robberies in the Phoenix metropolitan area since January 1, 2009. The Violent Crime/Bank Robbery Task Force has solved 121 to date.

A conviction for each count of Bank Robbery carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both. A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The FBI has partnered with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Mesa Police Department, the Phoenix Police Department, the Scottsdale Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to form the Violent Crime/Bank Robbery Task Force in order to investigate, arrest and seek prosecution of those responsible for robbing banks in the Valley. The prosecution in this case is being handled by Jennifer E. Green, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-336(Yanni)

Source: FBI Phoenix Office

Monday, October 26, 2009

Federal, State, and Local Cooperation Nabs Homicide Suspect‏

The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Department of State, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department, members of the Arizona WANTED Task Force arrested Lazar Yousif Lazar as he re-entered the United States . In March 2009 a warrant was issued by the Maricopa County Superior Court for the arrest of Lazar after he failed to appear for court proceedings related to the prior charges of First Degree Murder, Assisting a Criminal Street Gang, Aggravated Assault, and Robbery.

Source: US Marshals