Thursday, October 1, 2009

Porto's Burbank Was Robbed In 2007

This caught my eye while reading about the current FBI investigation into conduct at Burbank PD this morning.

From LA Now:
Federal officials are seeking use-of-force complaints or allegations generated in response to a Dec. 28, 2007, robbery of Porto's Bakery a well as records in connection with the Aug. 23, 2007, arrest of Rene Escarsega, the subpoena states.
How did I not hear about this? The only information I could dig up about the Porto's robbery is in a post today on the SemiChorus Burbank blog, and it's fascinating:

The reason why the LASO came in was because of a serious robbery down at Portos. That’s right, the fantastically lucrative Portos Bakery was robbed here in Burbank a few years ago, and you never heard about it in our little local newspaper, as far as we can detect. This Portos crime was big news to us when we first heard about it awhile back, and apparently there might have been a good reason to keep it all quiet, because it has turned out to be more than just a simple robbery.

We’re trying to get a line on just what happened, but apparently for now, the Sheriff’s investigators happened upon Burbank police misconduct in the course of their findings, and then called in the FBI, which is why the federal agency got involved. And things branched out from there, as they often do.

The linchpin in all of this is Portos. We understand the DA’s office placed this robbery case within their organized crime division for investigation, but we’re not sure if this means possible gang participation, or whether the DA thinks the city itself is the organization that conspired to do something wrong.

Either way, it was Portos that dragged in both the FBI and the Sheriff’s Office, not Gary Bric or anyone else in the city on their conscientious own, and then things got complicated and out of hand.

If you have any information about the previously undisclosed robbery, please post it in the comments.


Dan Evans, editor said...

Hi Scott,

You're right. As far as I can tell, neither the Leader nor the LA Times wrote anything about the 2007 Porto's robbery. However, we did publish a bit about it in today's paper:

[...] The FBI investigation involves at least two incidents — the Aug. 23, 2007, arrest of Rene Escarsega; and the Dec. 28, 2007, robbery of Porto’s Bakery.

Details as to each of the officers’ involvement have not been made public.

In addition, details of Escarsega’s Aug. 23 arrest were not immediately available.

In the Porto’s case, officers responded about 8:23 p.m. after six suspects entered the bakery at 3614 W. Magnolia Blvd. after hours and committed a takeover-style robbery, Burbank police Sgt. Thor Merich said.

The suspects allegedly bound the hands of 13 employees with zip ties, struck one with a handgun and kicked another before forcing an assistant manager to go upstairs where two safes were kept. He was then forced to remove a large amount of cash, Merich said.

A police investigation revealed that the suspects were MS-13 gang members, and that the robbery was an inside job, Merich said. Eight of the 10 suspects were charged with kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment.

After internal Police Department reviews of the Porto’s robbery, city records from 2008 show that an outside investigator was brought in as part of a departmentwide use-of-force audit.

Stehr called in the Sheriff’s Department in April 2009 to investigate at least two allegations of police misconduct, he said. [...]

Full story is here and a blog post on this can be found here

Scott said...

Very interesting, thanks!

Skrip said...

Wow, this is interesting news Scott, thanks. But you know NO ONE would mess with Glendale's Portos! I'd drive out there to personally kick some butt!