Valencia bank robber sentenced to 6 years in prison

bank video surveillance.

A Valencia man accused of robbing banks was sentenced to six years in state prison Thursday after pleading no contest to two counts of robbery.

James Hamill, 27, appeared Thursday in San Fernando Superior Court for a preliminary hearing in which he, instead, “pleaded no contest to counts two and four, both second-degree robberies,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said Thursday.

“We dismissed the remaining counts in exchange for the plea,” he said. “The defendant was sentenced to six years in state prison forthwith.”

Hamill and Samantha Yaworski, 22, also of Valencia, were charged in May.

Hamill was charged with six counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery. Yaworski was charged with one count of attempted robbery.

Yaworski was sentenced last month to one year less a day after pleading no contest to attempted second-degree 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,” Santiago said in August.

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 was later identified by police as James Hamill, Green wrote in his news release.

Burbank police detectives also identified an accomplice to Hamill, who they believed 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 filed six counts of robbery in addition to two counts of attempted robbery against Hamill, and one count of attempted robbery against Yaworski.

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