SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The man believed to be the “Hills Bandit” reportedly pleaded not guilty in a Santa Ana courtroom Monday to a string of bank robberies that stretched from Santa Barbara to Laguna Niguel.
Stephen Richard Bartlett, 53, will head to trial on Jan. 6.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Gicking said Bartlett went into a Citibank in Laguna Hills on July 16 and handed a teller a demand note that said: “This is a robbery, I have a gun. Give me your 20s, 50s and 100s from both drawers.”
Bartlett was also charged with these holdups:
— On May 6, at a Wells Fargo branch at 25632 Alicia Parkway in Laguna Hills, where $14,578 was taken;
— On July 25, at a Citibank at 23562 El Toro Road in Lake Forest, where $11,249 was stolen;
— On Aug. 8, at a U.S. Bank branch at 24340 El Toro Road in Laguna Woods, where $8,078 was taken;
— On Aug. 22, at a Wells Fargo branch at 30160 Town Center Drive in Laguna Niguel, where $9,600 was stolen;
— On Sept. 8, at a U.S. Bank branch at 30000 Town Center Drive in Laguna Niguel, where $2,810 was taken;
— On Sept. 15, at a Bank of the West branch at 3780 State St. in Santa Barbara, where $4,375 was stolen;
— And on Sept. 26, at a Montecito Bank and Trust at 3802 S. State St. in Santa Barbara, where $1,829 was taken.
He is also a suspect in bank robberies in San Ramon and Granite City as well as an attempted bank robbery in San Diego County.
Bartlett was arrested a month ago after he led police on a wild pursuit starting in Santa Fe Springs. The chase ended in San Bernardino County after he lost control of the truck and crashed before surrendering.
Whittier police said they recovered a fake firearm that he threw from the vehicle at the beginning of the pursuit.
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