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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

‘Seasoned Bandit’ Sentenced for Santa Clarita Bank Robberies

For a 2017 string of bank robberies in the Santa Clarita Valley and elsewhere, the man called the “Seasoned Bandit” by law enforcement was sentenced March 15 for allegedly stealing a combined $39,424 from 11 banks. James Allen Hayes, who was arrested last October, pleaded guilty on four federal counts of bank robbery. He had already signed a Feb. 23 plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he admitted to robbing four banks, according to a Santa Clarita Signal report. However, Hayes is alleged to have robbed nearly a dozen banks – including six in the Santa Clarita Valley. He also allegedly held up banks in the coastal communities of Pacific Palisades, Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Maria. What makes Hayes, 55, so distinctive from other robbers is that in 1998, he won a $19 million cash prize in the California Lottery. According to online reports, the former Ventura security guard supervisor developed a $1,000-a-week heroin habit and quickly squandered his half of the SuperLotto money, which he had already split with his ex-wife. The Seasoned Bandit’s crime wave from 2017 includes a June 12 robbery of the Wells Fargo branch near the intersection of Lyons Avenue and Wiley Canyon Road in Newhall; a June 27 robbery of a Chase Bank on Lyons Avenue at Apple Street; the July 25 robbery of Logix Valencia Promenade credit union branch on McBean Parkway near Magic Mountain Parkway; the Aug. 10 California Credit Union on Magic Mountain Parkway; Wescom Credit Union on Pico Canyon Road at The Old Road in Stevenson Ranch; and a Sept. 25 return to Newhall’s Wells Fargo. In every case, Hayes handed a note demanding money and notifying the teller that he carried a gun, which was never seen. In his plea deal, Hayes admitted to robbing four banks: Union Bank in Carpinteria; Newhall’s Wells Fargo; Valencia’s Logix Federal Credit Union; and Coast Hills Credit Union in Santa Maria. Hayes signed an agreement understanding the 20-year maximum sentence he faces for each robbery, amounting to a potential 80-year prison sentence, and his obligation to “pay full restitution” to the banks.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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