Credit union robber sentenced to nearly four years

Trio used taxi as a getaway car

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: May 22, 2013, 8:00 PM

 

A 22-year-old Vancouver man who used a taxi as a getaway car along with two accomplices was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison for the April 11 robbery of the Salmon Creek branch of iQ Credit Union.

Lonnie Barnard pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree robbery. Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson sentenced Barnard to 46 months as a part of a plea bargain. He received less time than his uncle, Frank J. Barnard. Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino explained that the nephew has a shorter criminal history, and Frank Barnard led the operation and presented the robbery note.

Frank Barnard also pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

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.

Lonnie and Frank Barnard 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 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, who apparently didn’t know what he was getting into when he picked up the trio, according to police reports.

The vehicle merged onto Interstate 5 and headed southbound, according to the 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.

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.

The cabbie didn’t face charges.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.