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Bank robbery case moves into federal court system

Jose Osoria-Mendez1 / 2
Felix Mendez2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- Two of the four people charged in the July 2 robbery of the First State Bank Southwest, Rushmore branch, are now facing the federal court system.

Felix Mendez, 22, and his 19-year-old nephew Jose Osoria-Mendez, both of Worthington, are scheduled to make 3 p.m. detention hearing appearances Thursday at the United States Courthouse in Minneapolis. They are currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service, having been removed from the Nobles County Jail.

Mendez and Osoria-Mendez were scheduled to make appearances in Nobles County District Court Tuesday morning, but Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore told Judge Jeffrey Flynn neither man was available.

"They are in federal custody in Minneapolis," Moore said. "The federal court has filed charges, and it is my understanding that an indictment will soon follow."

The federal complaint against the two men was filed late last week in the District of Minnesota, but no indictment has yet been entered into the federal court document system.

It is likely federal charges will also be filed against the two men in the Northern Iowa District in connection to a robbery at a gun shop. The serial numbers on guns found in Mendez's residence after the bank robbery matched those of guns stolen from a Crawford County, Iowa gun shop in late May.

Mendez and Osoria-Mendez were scheduled to make appearances in Nobles County District Court Tuesday morning. The two women also arrested and charged in the bank robbery case, Mercedes Salena Lovan, 19, and Phothong Syhavong, 27, both appeared in court and requested omnibus hearings, waiving any time limits. Lovan and Syhavong were each charged with aiding an offender to avoid arrest.

The federal complaint states Mendez and Osoria-Mendez allegedly robbed the bank at approximately 10:40 a.m. July 2 while two tellers and a customer were inside the building. Mendez allegedly came into the bank wearing a sweatshirt hood pulled up over a hat, sunglasses and jeans. He was allegedly carrying a handgun with a long barrel, which he pointed at the tellers and demanded money. Osoria-Mendez allegedly drove the getaway car, a red Mitsubishi belonging to Syhavong.

Shortly after the tellers called 911 to report the robbery, a red Mitsubishi was spotted traveling at a high rate of speed and an officer observed the vehicle turn into a driveway on Fox Farm Road. The residence is allegedly owned by Syhavong, who later told authorities Mendez lives with her.

After taking all four people into custody, authorities executed a search warrant at the residence and located more than $5,000 in cash, including "bait bills" from the bank, two checks from the bank and guns.

During an interview, Osoria-Mendez admitted to driving the red car and seeing Mendez come running out of the bank with a gun and a plastic bag full of cash. When Mendez was interviewed, he stated he was not involved in anything.