Courts

Jury hears testimony from clerks quietly robbed in Natomas spree

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Trial began Thursday for a Natomas man accused of quietly robbing two banks with the bluff of a gun last November.

Matthew Ray Vandelinder of Woodland is charged with five felonies including robbery and several vehicle charges in relation to a pursuit after police tracked down a GPS device in a stack of cash robbed from the US Bank inside of Safeway on Del Paso Boulevard.

Prosecutor Emilee Divinagracia-Renner described the 39-year-old as a quiet and calculated criminal who constructed a plan with detailed notes and lying to tellers that he carried a gun in order to make a clean getaway with thousands of dollars in cash.

His lawyer, David Anguiano, said in his opening statement that the state’s evidence is “circumstantial” and made repeated references to the possibility of misidentification due to the robber’s heavy clothing and disguise – a mask and beanie. He pressed several witnesses about the robber’s eye and hair color on cross examination.

The day’s star witness, a Wells Fargo teller who will be referred to in this story as AB, described for the court the day he was nonchalantly swiped of all of his drawer cash by a man wearing heavy clothing and a mask.

The Update has chosen to use the man’s initials in cooperation with a Wells Fargo official who asked that the witnesses name be redacted from the story, citing an unspecified concern for his safety.

AB described the robbery as a “traumatizing” event that gave him “PTSD-like” symptoms – being only 18 at the time.

AB said he noticed a man in black clothing do several circles around a desk in the middle of the bank before approaching his line. The man dipped his head down, quietly demanding the teen give up all his money before he gets shot.

“This man comes in wearing all black,” AB recalled. “[He said] give me all the money that you have.”

He told AB not to press any silent alarms, but the man was able to use slight-of-hand to do so before handing the burglar a few hundred dollars in cash.

“Is that it?” the robber asked AB.

“Yes, that’s all I have,” the teen responded. The man stuffed the cash in a fanny pack and exited the bank.

Two days later, another bank was hit – this time a US Bank branch inside of the Safeway on Del Paso Road.

Client relationship consultant Hibay Masood was approached by a man wearing bulky clothing with a mask and a cap pulled down low over his head. The man approached the teller’s window with his hands stuffed inside his jacket pocket and said he had a gun, demanding cash from the young teller.

As Masood counted the money, she slipped a stack of bait cash kept by the bank with a GPS tracking device in it and called 911 after the robber left.

Court adjourned for the day with the testimony of Sacramento Police Officer Christopher Del Dotto. Del Dotto told the court that he received information from dispatch about a robbery at the US Bank, and dispatchers needed an officer to follow the trail of a GPS device hidden in the bait money stack.

Del Dotto took the call, and the dispatcher led him to a maroon Honda CRV – earlier reported stolen by Andrew Ondrejech, who said in court that his car was stolen with a spare key he left in a jar in the center console.

After Del Dotto lit up behind the CRV as it unsafely cut into the oncoming lane on a turn, the driver and a passenger took off, eventually bailing on foot in Woodland – dropping several items behind including a vape pen, a cell phone, and a beanie.

The cell phone was inscribed with the word “Matt’s” and had a photo of Vandelinder as the screensaver.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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