Suspected Bank Robber Charged In Wild Police Chase - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Suspected Bank Robber Charged In Wild Police Chase

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A man accused of holding up a Carmel Mountain-area bank, then leading police on a high-speed, intermittently wrong-way freeway chase, pleaded not guilty today to bank robbery and other charges.

Thomas Edward Lavalle, 61, is also charged with robbing banks in Escondido, Fallbrook and Encinitas on Jan. 30, Feb. 26 and March 5, respectively, said Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey.

The bank robber in all four San Diego County heists got away with cash, the prosecutor said.

The defendant has also been identified as a suspect in two Riverside County bank robberies in Palm Desert, the prosecutor said.

Harvey told Judge David Szumowski that Lavalle failed to yield to police officers about 5:50 p.m. Friday following the Carmel Mountain holdup.

She alleged the suspect drove at speeds of more than 90 mph and went the wrong way on freeway ramps and shoulders before he was pulled over about 6:35 p.m. near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and state Route 163.

Lavalle allegedly had a loaded gun on him when he was stopped at the end of the 40-minute pursuit, the prosecutor said.

The defendant faces four counts of robbery, one count of felony evading and misdemeanor counts of being in possession of a concealed weapon and having a loaded firearm on his person.

He faces up to eight years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, the prosecutor said.

The judge set Lavalle's bail at $500,000 and scheduled a status conference for next Wednesday. A preliminary hearing was set for April 1.

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