A man who threatened tellers with fake bombs during three bank robberies in Imperial Beach and San Diego 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.
Fernandes 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. Shortly before the bank was robbed, a bomb threat was called into La Posta Market on Imperial Beach Boulevard.
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 off Saturn Boulevard on Dec. 17, saying he had a bomb strapped to his chest and telling people "Merry Christmas" as he left, Doyle said.
A tracking device then led police to 1280 California St. in IB where Sepulveda was arrested.
City News Service contributed to this report.