Vincent Edward Cantu--a former California police officer turned serial, armed bank robber--is now living in federal prison, but he is making a demand: He wants the FBI to return $3,000 agents confiscated from one of his jacket's during a pre-conviction search of his Whittier residence.
It's an unusually bold move given that Cantu has only paid $100 in restitution on the more than $37,000 he stole during in a three-year crime spree.
The onetime Pasadena Police Department cop recently told U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney that the confiscated funds were part of a loan from his mother-in-law prior to his arrest and that his family is enduring severe financial hardships with him incarcerated in a Fort Worth, Texas prison until the end of May 2020.
Cantu's Los Angeles-based defense attorney is also arguing that federal officials are obligated to return the cash because it's unrelated to the robberies.
But Assistant United States Attorney Christine S. Bautista is opposing the motion, claiming FBI agents believe the $3,000 originated from a June 2008 robbery of Pacific Mercantile Bank.
Bautista says the government is willing to part with the money if the FBI is allowed to convert the cash into a check directed to help pay outstanding restitution.
Carney scheduled an April 21 hearing inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse to decide the dispute.
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Cantu--who was labeled the "Polite Bandit" by law enforcement because he apologized to the bank tellers while he terrorized them--admitted guilt after his arrest, cited depression and alcohol abuse as an explanation for his crimes, and hoped for a lenient punishment heavy on counseling and light on prison time.
But in Nov. 2009, Carney sentenced him to a term of 162 months and, in 2012, rejected the bandit's request to overturn his conviction.