OC Man Pleads Not Guilty in Vintage Violins, Bank Robbery Case

OC Man Pleads Not Guilty in Vintage Violins, Bank Robbery Case

The Los Angeles County Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on Jan. 11, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service
City News Service

5/28/2024

Updated: 5/28/2024

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A 57-year-old man pleaded not guilty May 28 in downtown Los Angeles to federal charges of stealing expensive violins and robbing a bank in Irvine.
Mark Meng of Irvine faces wire fraud and bank robbery counts in an alleged scheme to steal high-end violins and resell them for his personal gain from August 2020 through April of last year, and for the bank robbery, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Trial was tentatively scheduled for July 16 in Santa Ana federal court.
Meng is accused of stealing an 1823 Lorenzo Ventapane violin valued at $175,000; a 1903 Guilio Degani violin valued at $55,000; a 1913 Caressa & Francais violin worth $40,000; an 1870 Gand & Bernardel violin worth $60,000; and a Francais Lott violin bow worth $7,500, according to court records.
He allegedly sold the stolen instruments to a dealer in Los Angeles.
Meng is also accused of robbing a U.S. Bank branch at 4180 Barranca Parkway in Irvine at about 1:20 p.m. April 2. Meng asked for $18,000 with a note, but was given $446, according to the indictment filed last week in Los Angeles federal court.
The robbery suspect, disguised by a bandana and sunglasses and with latex gloves, was seen in video surveillance making a dash after the stickup to a white minivan that matched the Toyota Sienna officers saw at his Irvine home on April 11, which was registered to his girlfriend, federal officials said.
According to investigators, Meng contacted violin shops across the country to get an instrument on loan for a trial period, representing himself as a collector.
After getting the violins on a trial basis he kept them longer than promised, then kited checks to the lenders, re-sent more checks that bounced or claimed he tried to mail the instruments back but they got lost, prosecutors alleged.
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