The day prison doors recently swung open for the bank robber who came to be known as the “Bombshell Bandit.”
Sandeep Kaur, now 29, was released from Sacramento Residential Reentry Management, or RRM, on May 12, after she was sentenced in April 2015 to more than five years in federal prison.
The RRM office is a halfway house contracted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Before she was sentenced, Kaur pleaded guilty to four charges connected to bank robberies including a robbery in Valencia. If the math seems wrong it’s because Kaur was released after four years, not five — and released from a halfway house, not even a prison.
She earned the nickname, Bombshell Bandit, by threatening to set off bombs during robberies, though she also wore glamorous disguise of a wig and large sunglasses.
On June 6, 2014, shortly before 3 p.m., she passed a note demanding money to a clerk at the Bank of the West branch on Magic Mountain Parkway at McBean Parkway, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in 2014.
“The suspect threatened a bomb when she robbed the bank,” Eimiller said shortly after the incident. “We’re going to call her the Bombshell Bandit.”
Soon after the robbery, the FBI released three still images lifted from the bank’s surveillance video depicting a woman wearing glasses and what FBI agents said was an auburn-colored wig.
Like many of the other bank robbers to hit Santa Clarita, Kaur robbed banks in other cities.
Kaur was sentenced to five years in prison, and released after four, but there are others still sitting in prison.
Quickly recognized for the PT Cruiser he used to flee the scene of his crimes, the FBI named James Allen Hayes as the “Seasoned Bandit.”
Last June, Hayes was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $38,424 in restitution.
Between April and September of 2017, he held up a string of banks in Southern California, robbing, among other financial institutions: a Union Bank in Carpinteria; a Wells Fargo bank in Newhall; a Logix Federal Credit Union in Valencia; and a Coast Hills Credit Union in Santa Maria.
He was convicted of four counts of bank robbery, after pleading guilty pursuant to a written agreement signed Feb. 23, 2018.
To determine what his sentence should be, on April 27, 2018, the United States Probation Office filed a Presentence Investigation Report to assess Hayes’ total offense level under federal guidelines, prosecutors said in their sentencing recommendation.
The report looked at two aspects for recommending an increase in his sentence — the fact that property was taken from a financial institution and the threat of death.
It also weighed factors to have the sentence reduced — namely, that Hayes accepted responsibility.
Hayes, who won the lottery in 1998 — a cash prize of $19 million — admitted in a February 2018 plea deal that he robbed four banks, including the Wells Fargo Bank on Lyons Avenue, in Newhall, on June 12, 2017; and The Logix Federal Credit Union on McBean Parkway, in Valencia, on July 25, 2017.
He is scheduled to be released from from federal prison on Terminal Island less than a year from now, Feb. 23, 2020.
A bank-robbing pair
A bank robber who hit SCV last year and was sentenced just eight months ago is eligible for parole in April 2023.
In September 2018, James Lee Hamill, 28, of Valencia, was sentenced to six years in state prison after pleading no contest to two counts of robbery.
Hamill and a woman named Samantha Yaworski, 22, also of Valencia, were charged in May 2018.
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 364 days in jail after pleading no contest to attempted second-degree robbery.
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 a year ago.
“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.
Eligible for parole in April 2023, Hamill remains locked up inside the California Rehab Center.
‘Faux Badge Bandit’
At least one recent bank robber to hit the SCV has no parole date in sight, and that’s because he killed himself as the FBI moved in to arrest him.
A bank robber called the “Faux Badge Bandit” by the FBI was blamed for five hold-ups, including one in Newhall in June 2018.
Keith David Goodwin, 41, who killed himself following a bank robbery in Goleta, was dubbed the “Faux Badge Bandit” because of a seven-point badge he wore during robberies.
He held up the Wells Fargo branch inside the Stater Bros. store in Newhall on June 15, 2018.
At about 11:30 a.m. that day, deputies responded to reports of a bank robbery at the Wells Fargo location, inside the Stater Bros., in the 26900 block of Sierra Highway.
“There was just a demand note and possibly a gun seen,” Lt. Ignacio Somoano said at the time.
The robber — described at the time as a male, white suspect, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, heavy-set, wearing a cowboy hat — walked into the bank, handed the teller a demand note and left with cash, officials said.
‘Palm Tree Bandits’
SCV’s most recently sentenced bank robber does not yet have a release date posted.
The man who led the “Palm Tree Bandits” armed robbery crew that held up a Stevenson Ranch bank in 2016 — and other bank branches in Los Angeles and Kern counties, netting more than $85,000 in stolen money — was sentenced two months ago to 387 months in federal prison.
Gary Lamar Henry, a.k.a. “G-Thing,” 38, was given the 32-year, 4-month term last week by U.S. District Judge Robert H. Whaley.
Henry remains behind bars at the Victorville Medium 2 security prison.
On Sept. 14, 2016, sheriff’s deputies began looking for two armed bank robbers who held up a bank at gunpoint in Stevenson Ranch.
About a minute before noon, two armed men walked into the California Bank & Trust on The Old Road, near Pico Canyon Road, and demanded money, Sgt. Dan Peacock told The Signal in 2016.
That robbery is believed to have netted about $8,700, according to initial reports from first responders.
In total, the robberies netted Henry and his co-conspirators $85,354, according to the government’s sentencing memorandum.
All of Henry’s co-defendants in the case already have been sentenced, with three of them receiving prison terms in excess of 12 years.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt