A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for a Valencia man accused of robbing banks while the Valencia woman arrested with him was sentenced to one year less a day after pleading no contest to attempted second-degree robbery.
James Hamill, 27, and Samantha Yaworski, 22, both of Valencia, appeared Monday in San Fernando Superior Court.
The pair was charged in May by prosecutors with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Hamill was charged with six counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery. Yaworski was charged with one count of attempted robbery.
“She pleaded no contest today to one count of attempted second degree robbery and was immediately sentenced to 364 days in jail and placed on three years of formal probation,” said DA spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Hamill is scheduled to appear back in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 11, he said.
The two were believed responsible for several bank robberies in Southern California, law enforcement officials said.
“The first bank they hit in Santa Clarita was in Newhall on March 7, on Lyons Avenue,” Sgt. Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department said May 3.
“The second bank in Santa Clarita was the U.S. Bank on Valencia Boulevard on March 12,” he said.
The robbery spree spanned about two months, during which two U.S. Bank locations in the city of Burbank also were robbed, Green wrote in a news release issued in May.
The first occurrence in Burbank was on April 20, at about 3:40 P.M., when a man entered the branch at 1720 W. Olive Ave. and produced a demand note for money, according to a Burbank police report.
A witness inside the bank attempted to detain the suspect, but was unable to.
It was learned the suspect was armed with a pellet gun resembling a real handgun, which he left behind at the scene.
On April 30, at about 2:15 P.M., the same suspect robbed a U.S. Bank branch located at 240 E. Palm Ave. in Burbank, again producing a demand note.
Burbank detectives investigating these cases met with investigators from surrounding law enforcement agencies and learned the same suspect was believed responsible for additional bank robberies in Newhall, Valencia, Pico Rivera and Orange, and an attempted bank robbery in Van Nuys.
Evidence collected in the first Burbank bank robbery led to the identity of the suspect, who is now known to police as James Hamill, a 27-year-old man from Valencia, Green wrote in the news release.
Burbank police detectives also identified an accomplice to Hamill, who is believed to have acted as a getaway driver in at least one of the robberies. She was identified as Yaworski, Green said.
On May 2, arrest warrants were issued for Hamill and Yaworski. Two days later, both Hamill and Yaworski were arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department after they entered a U.S. Bank located in the 10100 block of Riverside Drive, in North Hollywood.
On May 7, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office file six counts of robbery in addition to two counts of attempted robbery against Hamill, and one count of attempted robbery against Yaworski.
Hamill remains in custody and is being held in lieu of $400,000 bail.