Detectives tell all in Garda cash theft case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The former GardaWorld employee, who stole nearly a million dollars from an armored truck, told police he knew it “was probably going to get to this point.”

WHAS11 News obtained the first taped interview with police after Mark Espinosa was arrested in Connecticut.

“I can’t discuss what happened, but I can tell you where the money is. It’s in my apartment,” he told them after being questioned for almost an hour.

Espinosa went on the run in December for almost two months. Louisville Detective Dan Mason said he planned the theft two weeks before.

“He had purchased a minivan on Craigslist ten days prior to the theft,” Mason explained.

Espinosa left the minivan at a Kroger until it was time. The night of December 4, he parked the van in an empty lot behind the Macy’s.

The next day, his coworker went into Jefferson Mall for drops and pick-ups.  That’s when Espinosa made his move.

“That’s where he drove the truck on December 5 and transferred the money to his van,” Mason said. “He had said at one point, the cars were going by, and at the time he just froze, because he didn’t want to be captured.”

He stopped at a Walmart to buy suitcases for the money, then took off to Pennsylvania.

Espinosa ditched the van because it didn’t have working heat, and instead bought a white Malibu Chevy in cash. Then he went to Connecticut, where he’s from.

“He said he was looking over his shoulder, he felt scared. He said he was most comfortable in a place that he knew,” Mason explained.

At first police weren’t sure if he had been kidnapped or if he was working alone. Detective Mason said the scene was staged to look like an abduction.

“He left his service pistol on the ground. His ID with all of his personal belongings were in a backpack in the back.”

They searched his home and found computers with hard drives removed and got help from the FBI.

“They were able to collect some of the computers we found and carve out some images of a birth certificate that had been altered in the name of Sam Smith.”

Espinosa had shaved his head and grew facial hair.

He went to a Connecticut DMV with a forged social security card and birth certificate to try and solidify his new identity. A clerk noticed he was nervous and called police. They arrested him, took his fingerprints, and discovered who he was.

“He made the statement, ‘I’ll either be Sam Smith today and this will be the first day of the rest of my life, or I’m going to jail.’”

Of the $932,000 dollars taken, $892,000 was recovered. Espinosa will have to pay back the rest.

Detective Mason said he seemed to have lived modestly throughout his time on the run.

He said Espinosa was a loner and believes he was trying to buy a new life. 

“He definitely was a gamer. That was a part of his past. I think he had a large imagination. He thought he could take this money and live off of it for several years.”

He pleaded guilty on Tuesday and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

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