Three Vancouver residents who used a taxi as their getaway car have pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to the April 11 robbery of the Salmon Creek branch of iQ Credit Union.
Frank J. Barnard, 40, of Vancouver, pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. His nephew, Lonnie Barnard, 22, also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery but won’t be sentenced until Wednesday. A plea agreement with the prosecution recommends he be sentenced to 46 months in prison because he has less of a criminal history than his uncle, said Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino.
Esmeralda C. Velazquez, 23, who was in the getaway cab, pleaded guilty May 3 to second-degree robbery and first-degree rendering criminal assistance. She was sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Frank Barnard, along with his nephew, entered the credit union at 13505 N.E. 10th Ave. at 2:26 p.m. on a Thursday, approached the counter and presented a female teller with a note that demanded money, according to a probable cause affidavit. Frank Barnard clarified that it was a robbery and that he had a gun, and he verbally ordered her to give him money, the affidavit says.
The teller gave the two men about $1,400. The pair then fled the scene in a waiting Radio Cab van, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Velazquez was in the cab along with the driver.
The vehicle merged onto Interstate 5 and headed southbound, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
A witness at the robbery followed the suspects in her vehicle until sheriff’s deputies stopped the taxi on Interstate 5 near Northeast 78th Street in Hazel Dell.
Inside were the three suspects and the cabbie, who apparently didn’t know what he was getting into when he picked up the trio, according to police reports. The cabbie didn’t face charges.
Court records indicate Velazquez, who is Lonnie Barnard’s girlfriend, helped count the money during the drive. She told investigators she knew the Barnards had been plotting the robbery for more than a day, according to investigators.