Cash that a Tacoma man in his late 70s planned to send to his family in Vietnam instead was used to pay off debts of men accused Wednesday of robbing him, according to police.
Two men allegedly robbed the person they referred to as “old man” of $5,600 Monday.
Maluelue Fitiao, 36, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. Vance Borja, 27, pleaded not guilty to those charges, as well as possession of a controlled substance. Their bail was set at $250,000 each.
One of the men told police he used the cash to settle debts, spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
According to charging papers:
Fitiao told Borja and several others with him on a trip to cash a check at a bank at 72nd Street East and Portland Avenue East that he noticed an “old man” there had a lot of money and that he was going to take it.
Fitiao apparently also planned to use the money to benefit his own relatives.
“I’m going to get a lot of money to bless the whole family,” he said.
The suspects followed the victim from the bank to his home in the 1400 block of East 64th Street, where Fitiao told the others to prepare for a getaway.
He approached the house, grabbed the “old man” by the throat and forced him inside.
Borja stood by as Fitiao patted the man down, took the money and pulled a handgun.
As Fitiao pulled the gun, scraps of paper with an address police later linked to a relative of Borja fell to the ground, and the suspects left.
Fitiao later told officers he pointed the gun at the “old man’s” chest. He hadn’t checked how many bullets were inside the firearm, which he said he’d had for about a week. He refused to say where it came from.
Fitiao and Borja were arrested Tuesday when police stopped a car they thought contained the two suspects based on surveillance footage from the bank.
A handgun was visible in the car, and Borja had a bag of methamphetamine in his lap. He was under state supervision at the time and has previous convictions for assault, theft, identity theft and other crimes.