San Pedro Man Convicted in Takeover Robbery at Gardena Credit Union
A San Pedro man could face life in federal prison after he was convicted Friday of his role in a takeover robbery at a credit union in Gardena along with two others, including a woman who worked at the financial institution, federal officials said.
Toyrieon Laquan Sessions, 29, also known as “Phat” and “PhatStax,” was the gunman in the April 21, 2017, heist at the Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union, 879 W. 190th Street, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Ciaran McEvoy said in a written statement.
A jury convicted him of armed bank robbery, conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence following a four-day trial in federal court in Los Angeles, according to the DOJ.
Two others charged in connection with the crime have already been convicted.
Daronnie Thompkins, 31, of Los Angeles, who organized the robbery, was convicted in August of 2018 of armed robbery and conspiracy and has since been sentenced to nine years in federal prison, officials said.
Iris Lester, 28, of Los Angeles, an employee of the NGFCU and Thompkins’ girlfriend at the time, has pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25.
During the robbery, Sessions went into the office building housing the credit union with a gun, according to McEvoy. He approached Lester and another credit union employee as they exited a restroom.
“At that point, Sessions brandished a semi-automatic handgun and used it to force Lester, who was pretending to be a victim, and the other employee to provide access to the credit union’s vault room,” McEvoy said.
Neither employee had the key to open the vault, he said. Sessions allowed Lester to leave the room, “but, instead of escaping, Lester returned with another credit union employee who was supposed to have the vault key,” McEvoy said. “Lester then left the room a second time and retrieved the keys, but did not hit any panic buttons.”
Sessions fled with more than $311,000, officials said.
Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division arrested Sessions in November, 16 months after the robbery, Los Angeles County booking records show.
Sessions faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he returns to court for sentencing on Oct. 4.