A former California Lottery winner who lost his money and then committed 10 bank robberies, including four in Santa Barbara County, has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison.
James Allan Hayes, 55, of Ventura learned his sentence Thursday, months after pleading guilty to four of the robberies to avoid a trial on all the charges.
Judge Fernando M. Olguin also ordered Hayes to pay restitution of $39,424.
The sentence handed down fell between the 57 months sought by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jehan M. Pernas and defense attorney Stephen Demik’s request for 12 months and one day.
In February, Hayes pleaded guilty to robbing the Union Bank, 5420 Carpinteria Ave. in Carpinteria, on May 24, 2017, and the CoastHills Credit Union, 2264 S. Bradley Road in Santa Maria, on Sept. 6, 2017, along with two other heists in Valencia and Newhall.
In all, federal officials said, the defendant took approximately $39,424 from 11 banks he robbed or attempted to rob between April and September 2017.
He was dubbed “The Seasoned Bandit” and “PT Cruiser Bandit” for the vehicle he drove to commit the crimes.
“There can be no question that defendant’s crimes are serious, Pernas said in court documents. “Even putting aside the significant monetary losses defendant caused to multiple banks, defendant’s actions no doubt instilled immense fear in the victim-tellers he robbed, particularly in the cases where he indicated he had a gun.”
Hayes lacked any prior criminal history beyond two minor offenses in 1994.
However, a significant sentence was warranted “to deter the defendant from engaging in similar conduct in the future, to protect the public, and to impose just punishment,” Pernas added.
In his pleading for a lighter sentence, the defense attorney noted Hayes’ life includes growing up without a father and in the care a mentally ill, physically abusive mother.
Before winning the California Lottery, Hayes suffered from depression, the defense attorney said.
“He won $19 million, however, much of that money was either absorbed by taxes, bad investments or shared 50 percent with his ex-wife,” Demik wrote. “After winning the lottery, he began to suffer from the ‘lottery curse,’ losing his bearing in life. He ended up poor and destitute, and a heroin addict.”
“The community would be better served if Mr. Hayes overcomes his addiction, finds work, and provides for his wife, and pays his restitution obligations,” Demik added.
The two other bank robberies in Santa Barbara County occurred at Montecito Bank & Trust, 1000 block of Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria, on April 27, 2017, and Golden 1 Credit Union, 5761 Calle Real in Goleta, on July 7, 2017.
For restitution, the federal government will keep the gold PT Cruiser and $525 in cash seized after his arrest.