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Local News

Two Suspects Charged in Santa Maria Bank Robbery

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that it has filed charges against two men after a bank robbery Saturday in Santa Maria.

One man has been charged with conducting the operation, and the other with picking up a bag of money dropped by the first suspect.

Arthur Watkins, 55, of Arroyo Grande was arrested Saturday after officers responded to a report of an armed robbery in progress at the Wells Fargo Bank at 407 E. Main St.

Watkins is facing one count of burglary, five counts of robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm at a police officer, plus an allegation that Watson was armed with a .45-caliber Glock handgun and used it in an attempt to avoid capture, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the District Attorney's Office.

"The five robbery counts name as a victim each of the individual bank employees from whom cash was allegedly taken, as there is no generic 'bank robbery' statute under California law,"  the statement said.

Jose Armando Villa-Mendez, 19, of Santa Maria was also charged Tuesday in a separate complaint that alleges one count of grand theft and one count of receiving stolen property for allegedly taking a bag of currency dropped by Watkins.

Santa Maria police Lt. Kim Graham told Noozhawk on Saturday that the dropped cash was picked up by a passerby who fled the scene rather than turn it in.

Villa-Mendez was later arrested.

"At this point, there is no indication that the individuals were working in unison," said Graham, who did not disclose the amount of money taken in the holdup.

Arraignment for both men is scheduled for Nov. 19  in Santa Maria Superior Court.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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