A Tribute to Emil Dechebal Matasareanu and Larry Eugene Phillips, Junior

Last Updated September 24, 1998 by bank_robber@hotmail.com

Please note: This page is a tribute to Emil Dechebal Matasareanu and Larry Eugene Phillips, Junior, who both died on February 28, 1997. The facts presented here are presented as I understand them. Any questions and/or comments should be directed to bank_robber@hotmail.com.

Thank you

COMING SOON! The June 26, 1997 article from 'Rolling Stone' magazine, verbatim, with detailed background histories of both men, with interviews with family members and spouses left behind. All I need to do is fix a few typographical errors in it, such as failure to capitalize names and such, and then it will be online. I found this article by doing a search of a site which compiles magazine articles for academic use. There is also a copy of this issue at the local library, and I hope to some day get the images from the magazine scanned as well.

In the distant future: Many updates. Greater and more in-depth background histories of both men, a more elaborate review of the robbery on my part, more sounds and quotes, and more pics. I'll get around to all of them soon. Thank you for your patience.

Emil Dechebal MatasareanuLarry Eugene Phillips, Junior

      Emil Dechebal Matasareanu               Larry Eugene Phillips, Junior
Jeanette Theresa Federico, Mr.Phillips' Widow

Jeanette Theresa Federico, Mr.Phillips' Widow




On February 28, 1997, at 9:15 AM, Emil Dechebal Matasareanu and Larry Eugene Phillips, Junior, walked into a Bank of America in Van Nuys, California, not far from the Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. studios. A total of 32 customers and 10 employees were present in the bank when the two men entered it. Both men were wearing all black, including ski masks, and both were also wearing high quality body armor. One of them (it is unclear which) ordered everyone onto the floor—"Cover your eyes!"— and soon after automatic weapons fire was heard. One man was hit in the head with a rifle butt because he couldn't keep his 2- or 3-month old baby quiet.

They did not order the plexiglass doors to the areas behind the counter opened; they simply obliterated them with automatic gun fire. It is unclear what happened after these incidents and when the LAPD arrived on the scene. But everything that occured after the arrival of officers is well documented.

The two men did indeed die at the scene. But not before they had fired over 1,100 rounds of 7.62x39 mm ammunition from both AK-47 and SKS rifles. For more than twenty minutes the two men held off police (eventually more than 200 officers were at the scene) with their gunfire, and ultimately advanced five city blocks. Their bullets were full metal jacket, and could pierce police body armor from over 200 yards away. Eventually, Mr. Phillips died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head; prior to that he had been shot 11 times. Mr. Matasareanu had ultimately been shot 29 times, and would have lived if he'd been given immediate and proper medical attention. Police let him bleed to death instead.

The late Mr. Matasareanu, 30, was born in Romania and grew up partly in Altadena. He turned to computers because he was teased for being chubby. After graduating from DeVry Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, he operated his own business, working as a computer technician and software designer, his mother, Valerie Nicolescu, told reporters.

He started having trouble with the law after authorities shut down a care center for the mentally disabled he ran with his mother, Nicolescu said. A few years ago, he went to Romania to get married and returned with his wife. She left with their two sons (Alexander and Emil Junior) six months before the robbery. Adding to his woes: brain surgery in July for epilepsy brought on by a blocked artery and the failure of his computer business.

Larry Eugene Phillips, Junior, left behind a widow, Jeanette Theresa Federico. She was reported to have been in Los Angeles the day of the robbery, but police were unable to contact here. She was profiled on Unsolved Mysteries not long ago. After seeing herself on television, she turned herself in.


Plese note: I personally scanned all of the images below. I know they all aren't high quality, but they were the best I could do. Click on the image below for the enlarged version.



Click here for my review of the Bank Robbery. What actions I felt the two men took correctly, what mistakes I think they made, and how they could have gotten away if they had wanted to, and my overall opinion on this incident.

Click here for various quotes pertaining to the robbery.

On October 23, 1993, both Mr. Phillips and Mr. Matasareanu were pulled over by a police officer. Click here for an exact reproduction of the LAPD Evidence List of items found on and in the car. Mr Phillips pleaded no-contest to felony false impersonation and misdemeanor weapons possession, served 99 days in jail and got three years probation. Mr. Matasareanu pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor weapons charges, served 71 days in jail and got three years probation.


Sound file of an AK-47, full-auto

Sound file of an AK-47, semi auto

Yet another sound file of an AK-47, semi auto!

A newly added sound file of Mr. Phillips' AK on full auto!


Officer Loren Farell- "If we've got any SWAT, call 'em out now."
Dispatch- "All units 15-A-3 advises large shots fired
           500 block of Laurel Canyon."


Dispatch- "Suspects are firing at all officers.
           Stay down per the air unit."


Officer- "We have an officer down, he needs help,
          Code 3, he is passing out."  AK is heard in the background.


Officer Loren Farell- "This is unit 15-A-3 requesting assistance.  We have
                       a possible 211 in progress at the Bank of America."