A defense attorney admitted in federal court in San Francisco today that his client conspired to steal an armored car from a Santa Rosa warehouse in 2012 but said that the evidence does not support the prosecution’s allegation that he carried out a similar crime in 2011.
Defense attorney Jai Gohal instructed jurors during his closing arguments in the trial of Monico Dominguez, 41, to find his client guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit a robbery planned on Aug. 6, 2012, that never materialized.
But Gohal said the evidence doesn’t support prosecutors’ allegations that Dominguez assisted in robbing another armored car a year earlier, on Aug. 11, 2011, and laundered nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
“There are significant and gaping holes in the evidence,” Gohal said in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Edward Chen.
Prosecutors argued Dominguez had already robbed the Garda Cash Logistics armored car warehouse and planned to do it again, charges they said were supported by evidence including the testimony of co-conspirators, a federal informant, Dominguez’s ex-girlfriend, phone records and a record of large cash deposits following the 2011 robbery.
Dominguez is accused of holding up two guards at the warehouse with Milton Fierro, who testified against Dominguez during the trial, and making off with $907,000 in cash. Prosecutors allege that Dominguez then fled to Oregon and began making a series of large cash deposits and purchases in such a way as to evade detection by law enforcement.
Police and FBI investigators couldn’t solve the brazen robbery until Kevin Jensen approached the FBI in 2012 to say that Dominguez had approached him to help attempt a similar robbery. Jensen had read about the previous armored car robbery and concluded Dominguez was involved, leading him to approach investigators seeking a $100,000 reward.
Jensen agreed to work as an informant to expose the conspiracy and wore a wire while planning the robbery with Dominguez. They planned to steal an armored car carrying $9 million from the warehouse and store it in a shop owned by Shawn Geernaert.
Dominguez, Jensen and Dominguez’s nephew, Juan Dominguez Jr., got together on the night of Aug. 6, 2012, for the robbery but called the plan off at the last minute fearing that police were aware of the scheme.
Juan Dominguez pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year and was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.
Gohal admitted today that with the surveillance evidence acquired from Jensen, prosecutors had Monico Dominguez “red-handed” in planning the 2012 robbery, but said that there was not sufficient evidence implicating him in the earlier case.
Among the problems that Gohal identified in the prosecution’s evidence was that the two guards in the warehouse identified the robber, who was wearing a ski mask, as a man with pale skin, blue eyes and a thin build, a different description than the dark-eyed and muscular Monico Dominguez.
He also questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Fierro, who is currently serving a prison sentence for another robbery and was facing a longer stay in custody after evidence surfaced implicating him in the armored car robbery.
Prosecutors said that in addition to the testimony, the case was bolstered by Monico Dominguez’s sudden acquisition of tens of thousands of dollars following the 2011 heist.
Gohal said his client, a handyman who mainly did odd jobs, earned the money by helping to set up illegal marijuana grow operations, but prosecutors argued that there was no evidence that he had been doing that kind of work.
Monico Dominguez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of all charges.