Brothers arrested in ATM break-in
By Joanna E. Stone
Two brothers -- one of whomwas expelled earlier this year in connection with credit-card theft -- were arrested last Sunday for breaking into the Shawmut Automated Teller Machine in the Infinite Corridor near Lobby 10.
Manlio Lopez '92 and Alejandro Lopez '93, both from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, were arrested at 5:19 am the morning of May 26, by MIT Campus Police who had been alerted to the crime by the bank's silent alarm system.
Arresting Campus Police Officer Clyde M. Brown was the first to arrive at the scene of the crime. "When I got there I noticed there was sawdust on the floor, the Bay Bank machine cameras were covered up, and the cylinder lock was missing from the door," Brown said.
Brown went to the other entrance across from Room 10-180 and "saw that the Shawmut machines were pulled away from the wall and a large hole had been cut through both of the doors which lead to the rear ATM machines." That is when he spotted one of the suspects -- Manlio Lopez -- with his back to him. Brown immediately radioed for back-up.
"It was a pretty tense situation because I didn't know if he [Manlio] was armed or not," Brown said. "I was shocked when I found out they were MIT students."
Brown apprehended Manlio as he was leaving the ATM. He and two other officers then went into the Shawmut to search the scene of the crime, when he found Alejandro.
One brother found
hiding under counter
"He was hiding inside the ATM under a counter," Brown said. "The money was with [Alejandro] under the counter -- two big trays of money from the machine." Brown said he could not comment on exactly how much money was in the two trays except to say, "It was a lot of money, well in the thousands". Brown said that Alejandro also had an "assortment of hand-powered tools" under the counter with him.
The suspects were immediately taken to Cambridge Police and
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charged with larceny over $250, injuring a depository, possession of burglary tools and malicious destruction of property. They were then taken into custody by Cambridge police.
"After they were in custody and cuffs, that's when we searched them and found they had money on them, $460. And Manlio had the cylinder lock in his pocket," Brown said.
"Manlio said it was his brother's idea. He said Alejandro got the idea from watching television and from hearing about people robbing the ATM machines. He believed he knew how to do it," Brown said.
The two brothers were arraigned on May 28. Two different public defenders were appointed to each of the brothers. Bail was set at $10,000 surety or $1,000 cash for Alejandro and $3500 surety or $350 cash for Manlio.
One brother expelled
prior to break-in
Crispin Birnbaum, the assistant district attorney in charge of the case, didn't yet know what the reason for the differentiation in bail had been. "The charges against the two brothers are the same. The fact that the bail amounts are different suggests a prior history [for Alejandro]," she said.
According to sources, Alejandro had already been expelled from school before the ATM incident. Alejandro, a former Baker resident, was allegedly brought up on charges for stealing the credit card of a graduated Baker resident and charging it up to its limit, according to sources.
His stealing of this particular student's credit card seemed to be an isolated incident. James R. Tewhey, associate dean of student affairs, would not comment on the so-called "credit card problem", but did contend that if Alejandro had stolen other credit cards, he did not know about it.
Tewhey said he could not comment on what disciplinary action had been taken against the students, but could say that Alejandro could no longer be considered "associated with MIT", whereas his brother could be.
According to sources, Manlio has been suspended but not expelled from MIT. Tewhey said that Manlio had been part of the MIT Japan Program and that he was no longer a part of that program. In order to become affiliated with the MIT Japan Program, which places MIT students in Japanese corporate, government and university laboratories, a student must have a B grade average or better and must have no Institute history of disciplinary action.
Although disciplinary action had already been taken on Alejandro prior to this incident, he was still "allowed to live on campus for a brief period" of time after that, according to Tewhey. However, he had not been allowed to finish out the term. And according to sources, he had not been allowed to remain at Baker House, but had instead been moved to Ashdown House.
After their arrest on Sunday, the Lopez brothers were not allowed to return to their respective dormitories.
"I was told on Monday that I had to replace the locks on the doors to their rooms in Ashdown and Baker," said Thomas Gately, assistant housing maintenance manager. "Before I changed the lock, the door [in Baker] had been fractured and damaged. He'd tried kicking the door in," Gately said. "So I put in a completely different lock so nobody had access. I heard other students were nervous, did not want him in the dorm."
There is only one copy of the keys to each of the Lopez' rooms, according to Gately. No one in the dorms has a copy of the keys, not even the night watchmen.
Campus Police accompanied the Lopez brothers to their rooms the following morning at 11:30 am so they could take out their belongings, Gately said.
The two brothers are said to be currently residing off campus in Cambridge. The date for the pre-trial conference has been set for June 6.