Bank robbing "Hills Bandit" to plead guilty in L.A. - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bank robbing "Hills Bandit" to plead guilty in L.A.

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man dubbed the "Hills Bandit" is expected to plead guilty Monday to federal charges stemming from a series of bank robberies, including in San Diego County.

Stephen Richard Bartlett, 53, is suspected of robbing six banks in Orange County, two in San Diego County, two in Santa Barbara, a bank in San Ramon, and one in Granite City. He's also suspected in an attempted bank robbery in San Diego County, officials said.

He initially pleaded not guilty in Santa Ana to eight bank robberies, but is expected to plead to five felonies at Monday's change-of-plea hearing in Los Angeles federal court.

Bartlett was arrested Oct. 2 after a high-speed pursuit that spanned four counties, lasted some 90 minutes and involved multiple police agencies.

The chase began when police were alerted to a possibly fraudulent order at Fry Steel, a commercial steel business in Santa Fe Springs.

A man had picked up a $12,000 order for steel, driving away with the metal in the back of a truck, which responding officers attempted to stop.

The pursuit continued on multiple freeways, briefly reaching into La Habra before the suspect headed east on the Pomona (60) Freeway into Riverside and drove north on the 215 Freeway toward San Bernardino.

At one point, the motorist drove south in the northbound lanes of the 215 Freeway, then made a U-turn across all lanes and headed into San Bernardino County. He eventually lost control of the truck on the westbound 210 Freeway just west of the 215 Freeway and crashed alongside the freeway, with the truck rolling onto the driver's side.

Bartlett crawled out of the passenger-side door and surrendered.

Bartlett, whose driver's license shows an address in Nevada, is suspected of causing two crashes during the chase, one of them involving a California Highway Patrol vehicle, according to the CHP.

While being chased in Santa Fe Springs, he threw a gun from the vehicle that was recovered. It turned out to be a replica of a semiautomatic pistol, according to police.

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