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Alleged gang members to stand trial for Canyon Country bank robbery

Posted: March 20, 2013 7:32 p.m.
Updated: March 20, 2013 7:32 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO — Three men identified by prosecutors as Rollin 40s Crips gang members were ordered to stand trial Wednesday for a take-over bank robbery in Canyon Country last September.

Phillip Ely, 29, Lavelle Mosley, 22, and Terion Lamarr Collins, 25, will stand trial on charges they held up a Bank of America in Canyon Country on Sept. 12, threatening customers and tellers, then fled down freeways to Los Angeles, where they were captured after a lengthy chase.

The three face four counts each of second-degree robbery and one count each of kidnapping to commit another crime. The complaint alleges street-gang membership and gun use against each defendant.

A Los Angeles Police Department officer and street gang expert took the stand Wednesday and identified Mosley and Collins as members of the Rollin 40s Crips gang in Los Angeles. He said Ely was a gang associate.

Officer Robert Smith said the gang members would have enhanced their individual reputations and the reputation of the gang by robbing a bank outside of Los Angeles and returning to their neighborhood with the loot.

“When they return to their neighborhood and share their bounty, they enhance their reputation as a member,” he said under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Moira Curry.

“It would have been done for the benefit of the gang and for the associates of the gang to share the fruits of their crime,” Smith said.

During testimony earlier in the hearing before Superior Court Judge David B. Gelfound, two retired law-enforcement officers who were outside the bank during the holdup described how they followed the perpetrators when they left the bank and provided information that helped Sheriff’s Department deputies identify the getaway car.

The bank robbers switched cars after the holdup, having hidden a black Volvo SUV nearby, and drove that car to Highway 14 to flee toward Los Angeles on its freeway system, investigators say.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station patrol units and other law-enforcement officials followed the robbers through the San Fernando Valley and the Pasadena area into downtown Los Angeles, where the suspects exited the freeway in South L.A.

“As they’re driving, they throw items such as clothing and large amounts of money out the window,” Curry said while questioning Smith. “In your opinion, knowing two of the people involved are Rollin 40s gang members, do you see a benefit to the gang here?”

“Yes,” said the gang expert. “It would be for the enhancement of the gang.”

Ely, Mosley and Collins face trial next month.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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