SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who threatened tellers with fake bombs during three San Diego-area bank robberies last year was sentenced Tuesday to five years in state prison.
Roberto Amado Sepulveda -- dubbed the "Bank Bomb Bandit'' -- pleaded guilty last month to three counts of robbery, two counts of using a fake bomb and one count of calling in a bomb threat.
Defense attorney Vickie Fernandes unsuccessfully argued for probation, telling Judge Dwayne Moring that Sepulveda had an insignificant felony record, was remorseful, and accepted responsibility at an early stage of the proceedings.
Moring was unmoved. He called the crimes "serious,'' noting the bomb threats and robberies forced one bank teller to quit and another to take two months off.
"If you're going to commit bank robberies, you're going to go to prison,'' the judge said.
Fernandez said a car accident led Sepulveda to become hooked on prescription pain killers and ultimately addicted to heroin and other drugs.
She said Sepulveda, 24, was under the influence of opiates and other drugs when he went on his crime spree.
"This was out of character for him,'' Fernandes said, calling the defendant's behavior "completely erratic.''
Moring rejected a plea from Sepulveda's father to keep the defendant out of prison and send him to a drug treatment program.
The defendant robbed a Chase bank branch in Imperial Beach on Nov. 17 after placing a fake bomb in front of a teller, according to Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle.
Four days later, Sepulveda robbed an AmericanWest bank in Point Loma after pulling out a fake bomb and fake gun, the prosecutor said.
Sepulveda also held up a Navy Federal Credit Union in southern San Diego on Dec. 17, saying he had a bomb strapped to his chest and telling people "Merry Christmas'' as he left, Doyle said.
The defendant gave a full confession after the third robbery, the prosecutor said.
The San Diego County unemployment rate remained steady at 3.3 percent between November and December despite a loss of 3,500 jobs.
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