Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 1:59 pm | A Few Clouds and Breezy 65º


Local News

Man Arrested for Robbing 4 Banks in Santa Barbara County Takes Plea Deal

'Seasoned Bandit' James Allen Hayes, 55, of Ventura was charged in federal court last fall for 10 robberies and 1 attempted robbery

James Allen Hayes, 55, of Ventura, seen here in surveillance video during a bank robbery, has pleaded guilty to four counts after being accused of robbing 10 financial institutions and attempting to rob another.
James Allen Hayes, 55, of Ventura, seen here in surveillance video during a bank robbery, has pleaded guilty to four counts after being accused of robbing 10 financial institutions and attempting to rob another. (Contributed photo)

A serial bank robber who struck in Santa Barbara County and other areas in a 5-month spree last year before his capture has taken a plea deal in federal court. 

James Allen Hayes, 55, of Ventura pleaded guilty to four counts after being accused of robbing 10 financial institutions and attempting to rob another, a series of crimes committed between April 27 and Sept. 26, 2017.

Hayes, dubbed "The Seasoned Bandit," signed the plea agreement reached with the U.S. Attorney's Office on Feb. 23. A change-of-plea hearing occurred Thursday, when federal Judge Fernando M. Olguin set a June 7 date for sentencing.

At the time of his arrest, Hayes was addicted to heroin, using the drug daily, federal court documents revealed.

Media reports also claimed Hayes is former a California Lottery winner, whose multi-million dollars in winnings appear to be gone 20 years later.

The four crimes he pleaded guilty to were on: 

» May 24, 2017, at the Union Bank branch, 5420 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria. Hayes handed the teller a note saying “$5,000, no signals, no dye packs, no GPS, no sensors, no eye contact.” He fled with approximately $5,000.

» June 12, 2017 at the Wells Fargo Bank branch, 24180 Lyons Ave., Newhall. In that incident, he presented a note saying, “Give me $10,000 in large bills. Be quick, I’m watching your every move. I have a gun.” He left with approximately $2,000.

» July 25, 2017, at the Logix Federal Credit Union, 27051 McBean Parkway, Valencia, where he provide a note claiming “he had a gun in his pocket, asked her not to make any sudden movements, and asked for $7,000 in cash in large bills,” the plea agreement said. He escaped with $7,200.

» Sept. 6, 2017, at the branch of CoastHills Credit Union, 2264 S. Bradley Road, Santa Maria, where the note referred to a “gun” and “hundreds” before leaving with approximately $4,450.

Four of the 10 robberies occurred in Santa Barbara County, with the others being at Montecito Bank & Trust, 1000 block of Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria, on April 27, and Golden 1 Credit Union, 5761 Calle Real in Goleta, on July 7. 

Publicity about multiple robberies believed to have been committed by the same man led to his identification and capture, the FBI said.

Surveillance photos were circulated to the public and authorities described the suspect as a white male in his 50s or 60s wearing casual clothing, a hat and sunglasses. 

Law enforcement officials gave him the moniker of the "Seasoned Bandit" due to his suspected age and gray-white hair. 

Hayes is expected to pay restitution of approximately $39,424, the amount he gained in the robberies.

The plea deal requires him to surrender the light-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser he purchased using proceeds from the bank robberies.

He must make restitution “at or before the time of sentencing,” and agreed not to seek to discharge that obligation in a bankruptcy.

The maximum sentence Hayes faced was 20 years imprisonment per violation and fines totalling thousands of dollars.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on June 7.

While Hayes faced up to 80 years for the four robbery counts, the plea agreement contemplates a lesser sentence, although the final decision rests with the judge.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >