LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A woman who police refer to as the “Purse Packing Bandit” was recently charged with multiple counts of robbery in a series of bank heists that took place over the past two years.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Brianna Clemons Kloutse, 47, was charged Tuesday with nine counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of attempted second-degree robbery.

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Klouste was taken into custody Friday by Beverly Hills police officers after an armed robbery at a bank located in the 8400 block of Wilshire Boulevard, officials said Tuesday.

Police said witnesses to the robbery said Kloutse was most likely working with a man who was distracting the other bank employees while she carried out the robbery.

Once on scene, officers said, Charles Belk was arrested on suspicion of robbery after a witness identified him less than a block from the scene.

He closely matched the clothing and physical characteristics of the male suspect described by witnesses, authorities said.

A followup investigation, however, determined that Belk was not involved in the robbery, and he was released from custody without charges.

Police apologized and reached out to further explain the circumstances for the inconvenience caused to Belk.

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Kloutse is charged with robbing nine banks in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and West Hollywood since October 2012. She is also facing charges in connection with two attempted robberies in December 2012 and March 2014.

According to prosecutors, she often wore a wig, handed a teller a note and flashed what appeared to be a handgun or claimed she had one in her purse during her robberies.

If convicted, Kloutse faces up to 14 years and four months in state prison.

Police seek a second suspect.


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