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Alleged Bank Robbers Face Life in Prison if Convicted

The trio suspected of robbing branch banks in local grocery stores and leading police on a high speed chase will appear together in court on Monday.

Three men suspected of being the ``Market Duo Bandits'' involved in a string of bank holdups in Seal Beach and Lake Forest are scheduled to be in court together on Monday.  

Paul Acosta Jr., 28, of Los Angeles, who was shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy following a police chase, is still being treated for the bullet wound. Acosta is charged with 12 felony counts of second- degree robbery and five counts of second-degree commercial burglary, according to Deputy District Attorney Beth Costello.

Acosta also faces sentencing enhancements for prior convictions for felony thefts in May 2010 and January 2008.Andres Soto Jr., 50, of Whittier, is charged with 10 felony counts of second-degree robbery and four counts of second-degree commercial burglary, Costello said. Soto has a prior conviction for residential burglary in September 1983 and a 1993 bank robbery, Costello said.

Richard Valdez, 52, of La Habra, is charged with two felony counts of second-degree robbery and a felony count of second-degree commercial burglary, Costello said. He has prior convictions in April 1983 for robbery and May 2003 for assault with a deadly weapon, according to the prosecutor.

The three were all due in court Friday, but their hearings were rescheduled for Monday, when they will appear in the same courtroom, Costello said.

Acosta could face up to 15 to 20 years in prison. Soto and Valdez face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Acosta, the alleged mastermind, is accused of participating in all five bank robberies with Soto allegedly along for four and Valdez allegedly involved in the final one, Costello said. Valdez and Acosta allegedly held up a Wells Fargo branch in a Stater Bros. grocery store at 1111 Imperial Highway in Placentia on Jan. 5, according to Costello. Acosta and Soto allegedly robbed the same bank Nov. 21, Costello said.

The Market Duo bandits were suspected of robbing a U.S. Bank branch at 2101 W. Imperial Highway in La Habra on Oct. 25 and another U.S. Bank branch at 1101 Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach on Nov. 3, according to the FBI.

Acosta and Soto were also charged with robbing a U.S. Bank branch in Lake Forest on Dec. 10, Costello said.Acosta and Valdez took $3,152 in the final haul from the Stater Bros. bank in Placentia Jan. 5, Costello said.

The ``Market Duo'' bandits earned the nickname because they targeted bank branches in grocery stores.

After the Jan. 5 stickup, a high-speed police chase ensued from Placentia, ending in Paramount with Acosta being shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, according to Placentia police Detective Corinne Loomis.The defendants were all being held on $1 million bail.

-City News Service

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