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45 years to life sentence in Point Arena bank robbery

Published: Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:25 p.m.

A Butte County bank robber who targeted small, rural institutions in hopes of easy getaways was sentenced last week to 45 years to life in state prison for a Point Arena robbery and is a suspect in two other holdups, including one in Forestville, authorities said.

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Frederick Joseph Orlando of Magalia in booking photo after Aug. 23 arrest in connection with Point Arena robbery.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Office

Frederick Joseph Orlando of Magalia, near Chico, was arrested with son-in-law, Raymon Ojeda, 39, of Pico Rivera near Los Angeles, after the Aug. 23 heist at the Redwood Credit Union in Point Arena, Mendocino County officials said.

Orlando, 55, also has been linked to the Jan. 13, 2011, robbery of Bank of the West in Forestville and a February holdup in Amador County, thanks to an investigator's sharp memory.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Van Patten, who oversees investigations for his department, said he was sitting in on Orlando's questioning after his Aug. 23 arrest when "the lightbulb went off and I knew I'd seen this guy before."

The next day he realized the image he couldn't shake had been posted on a Sonoma County Sheriff's Office flier more than a year and a half earlier and featuring surveillance photos from the Forestville heist.

Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said Orlando served more than 11 years in federal prison for a 1990 conviction in four Southern California bank robberies.

Orlando later remarried and moved to Magalia, where he enjoyed collecting old clocks, although his modest lifestyle did not suggest a life funded by occasional bank robberies, Van Patten said.

Orlando, who was sentenced Wednesday in Ukiah, told authorities he blamed the financial industry for investment losses suffered by him and his wife and he returned to bank robbery because he felt wronged, Eyster and Van Patten said. Maps and other evidence in his house suggested extensive research and planning went into his robberies, Van Patten said.

Orlando initially told investigators the credit union was his first holdup since prison. But confronted with the Forestville holdup, Orlando admitted his involvement, causing Van Patten to wonder what else Orlando was not telling.

Printed Internet maps in Orlando's Jeep included one for Forestville, suggesting he and Ojeda were en route there from Point Arena when they were arrested, Van Patten said.

A GPS device in the Jeep also included an address for a bank in the tiny Amador County city of Plymouth outside of Sacramento. In his investigation, Van Patten discovered information about the robbery there in February and surveillance photos matching his suspects, although the robbers tried to mask their identities with dark, tousled wigs.

In all three robberies, he said, the robbers herded customers and personnel into a vault or back room so they had access to all teller stations, not just one.

Van Patten said he was troubled to learn both men were armed in Plymouth, challenging Orlando's attempt to downplay his son-in-law's overall culpability.

Ojeda has denied involvement, Van Patten said. But Ojeda pleaded guilty in the Point Arena holdup and faces up to six years in prison at his sentencing Wednesday.

Amador County authorities have issued arrest warrants for Orlando and Ojeda, citing armed robbery, false imprisonment and burglary charges.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Carlos Basurto said his department has issued an arrest warrant for Orlando and will bring him to Sonoma County for prosecution in the Forestville robbery.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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