By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man who prosecutors say led a gang of burglars in a decade-long string of Hollywood-style bank robberies, rappelling through roofs in matching outfits and carrying walkie-talkies, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Alceu Johnny Andreis, who was already serving 51 months behind bars for an attempted bank robbery in 2014, was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $12 million in restitution and forfeit two Mercedes-Benz cars and four Ducati motorcycles purchased with stolen loot.
Andreis, 48, was convicted of two counts of bank robbery following a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in Los Angeles late last year.
Prosecutors said Andreis led a crew of burglars in a series of well-planned bank robberies across Southern California in which the members carefully cased each building, cut holes in the roofs to gain access via ropes and conducted numerous dry runs.
According to evidence presented at trial, the burglars also disabled sophisticated security systems, communicated via walkie-talkies and jackhammered through thick concrete bank vaults before making off with the cash and the contents of safe-deposit boxes.
Prosecutors said in court documents that Andreis drug-tested his subordinates, had them wear identical clothing and shoes and thoroughly wipe down their equipment to ensure they would leave behind no fingerprints or DNA evidence.
Andreis and other members of the gang were apprehended in 2014 while trying to burglarize a Citibank branch in the Los Angeles suburb of Diamond Bar.
Three other members of the group have pleaded guilty in connection with the bank robberies, prosecutors say. Two of those defendants were sentenced to prison terms of up to 10 years, while a third was awaiting sentencing.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)