Suspects charged over impostor-style bank robbery

GREENBELT, Md. -- Four suspects in the robbery of a Wheaton bank were charged by criminal complaint on Tuesday with conspiracy.

Police said that at about 11 a.m. on Jan. 9, a man dressed in a black uniform went to a Wheaton branch of BB&T Bank and said he was a substitute AT Systems security guard. He left the bank with $574,500.

The next day, a real security guard arrived at the bank and was told that another guard had completed the day's cash pick-up.

Six people -- David Mbom, Phillippe Ngassa, Robert Tataw, Ernest Yossa, Elizabeth Tarke and Edmond Machie -- were arrested in connection with the Wheaton theft. Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said Tarke, Mbom, Tataw and Yossa were charged with conspiracy on Tuesday.

According to court documents, the impostor guard approached Tarke, who released the stolen money. Tarke told investigators that the impostor's uniform included an AT patch, but two other bank employees said the impostor did not have any AT markings and did not appear to be an AT carrier.

Police were suspicious of Tarke and searched her Olney home, which is when Mbom showed up, authorities said. He left in a vehicle driven by Tataw. They went to a Silver Spring address where a large bag of money was found later. Tataw was followed to a hotel in Takoma Park, where police found a bag containing $54,000.

Authorities said they also continued to follow Mbom. The stopped Mbom, arrested him and found a piece of paper in his wallet with three numbers written on it. Those numbers totaled 574,500.

Police said a search of Yossa's apartment uncovered $74,000.

Authorities said the Wheaton robbery may be connected to a similar one at a Wachovia branch on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. on Jan. 10. Police said a man impersonating an armored car guard walked out of the bank after officials let him sign for a locked bag of cash containing more than $300,000, sources told News4.

About an hour after the robbery, a real Brinks guard arrived at the bank and was told that another guard had completed the day's cash pick-up. Police said the Brinks driver waited until he returned to his office to tell his supervisors about the failed pick-up. Brinks officials contacted the bank, and a branch manager called D.C. police at about 8 p.m. -- almost 11 hours after the theft.

More arrests could follow as the investigations into both thefts continue.

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