San Pedro Man Gets 11 Years for Credit Union Heist

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A San Pedro man was sentenced today to 11 years in federal prison for wielding a gun in the violent, takeover-style robbery of a Gardena credit union, where an employee helped with the planning and execution of the heist.

Toyrieon “Phat'' Sessions, 30, was convicted two years ago of armed bank robbery, conspiracy, and use of a firearm stemming from the robbery of the Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union on April 21, 2017.

Two co-defendants were previously convicted for their roles in the robbery. Daronnie Thompkins, 32, of the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, who recruited Sessions to be the gunman and knew the credit union's layout, and Iris Lester, 28, of Inglewood, a NGFCU employee who was Thompkins' then-girlfriend and assisted with the robbery.

On the day of the robbery, Sessions entered the office building in which the credit union is located and walked past NGFCU's main entrance, entering a side hallway where the bathrooms were located. Sessions waited in the men's restroom until Lester and another NGFCU employee exited the women's bathroom, which was the signal for the robbery to begin.

At that point, Sessions left the men's room, brandished a semi-automatic handgun and used it to force Lester, who was pretending to be a victim, and the other employee to provide access to the credit union's vault room. Once inside, Lester and the other NGFCU employee realized they did not have the key to open the vault.

Sessions allowed Lester to exit the vault room, but instead of escaping, she returned with another credit union employee who was supposed to have the vault key. Lester then left the room a second time and retrieved the keys. When she returned, Sessions ordered her and the two other credit union employees onto their knees while pointing the handgun at each of them – an experience that “terrorized the victims'' and left them “deeply traumatized,'' prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

Sessions stole a total of $311,300 from the credit union and placed the cash in a black trash bag before exiting the vault room and fleeing the scene.

During an August 2018 bench trial, Thompkins was convicted of conspiracy and armed bank robbery and was sentenced to nine years in federal prison. Lester pleaded guilty to criminal charges and is expected to be sentenced June 18 in Los Angeles federal court.

Photo: Getty Images

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