After 7 years jailed in Mexico, Anchorage bank vault manager admits he stole $4M cash

Former Anchorage bank vault manager Gary Valenzuela has pleaded guilty to taking more than $4 million cash (pictured) from his employer, Key Bank, in 2011. He was apprehended in Mexico. (U.S. Attorney’s Office photo)

Federal prosecutors say a former Anchorage bank vault manager who walked away from work one day in 2011 with more than $4 million — then took the cash to Mexico, where he has been jailed ever since — is now set to be sentenced for the crime back in Alaska.

In court filings, 33-year-old Gerardo “Gary” Adam Cazarez Valenzuela admits he took the money from the Key Bank vault.

According to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum, Valenzuela found a way to disable some security measures. The court filing says he had an ice cream social the day of the heist, and that because he stayed late to clean up, there were not “dual controls” in place that would’ve prevented him from taking the money alone.

Valenzuela put the cash in boxes, wheeled them out the door, and then hopped on a private jet to Washington state, according to the prosecution’s timeline of events. He then picked up an AK-47 assault rifle and a pistol and drove to Mexico, where he ultimately ended up on a bus, the court filings say.

But Mexican authorities — in an apparently random search of the bus — found the cash and the guns, and they arrested Valenzuela on smuggling charges.

Without the random search, prosecutors wrote that Valenzuela would, “be sipping margaritas and enjoying his millions in stolen money…”

Prosecutors say Valenzuela spent seven years jailed in Mexico, while at the same time Key Bank spent over a half-million dollars trying to get back their money. Prosecutors say Valenzuela’s theft caused Key Bank such financial harm that it had to lay off some employees.

The roughly half-million in legal fees is what prosecutors are asking a judge to impose on Valenzuela as restitution, as well as requesting a nine-year prison term.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 29.

According to the sentencing memo, there is some dispute about a separate half-million dollars that Valenzuela is said to have left with family members in Washington. The court filing says the family members claim to have had the money stolen from them after they left it in the back of a pickup in a bad part of their town.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at