A man who targeted banks in cities around the Southland--including Baldwin Park -- by dropping off fake bombs and threatening the tellers with remote detonation was indicted last week, the FBI announced Saturday.
William Joseph Allen, 32, allegedly brought packages of wiring and electronic components to the banks and demanded money, claiming that a friend would press a button if police were called.
According to officials, usually the robber would pass notes warning tellers not to call police because his friend was monitoring police frequencies.
One note warned that the “establishment will not exist,” should authorities be called.
Allen was dubbed the “Explosives Threat Bandit” by the FBI. He was charged Tuesday in an eight-count indictment for bank robbery and attempted bank robbery for capers in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, El Monte, Baldwin Park and West Covina by a federal grand jury.
Allen was arrested April 17 in downtown Los Angeles by Los Angeles Police Department officers, and remained in federal custody awaiting trial, according to Los Angeles Police Department reports.
The string of eight bank robberies and attempted bank robberies began Nov. 15 at a Bank of America in West Covina and ended at a Wells Fargo in Santa Monica March 29.
Santa Monica police detectives first identified Allen as a suspect in a series of robberies that had been linked to the “Explosives Threat Bandit.”
A joint investigation involved the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and West Covina, El Monte and Baldwin Park police.
During some of the robberies, the suspect would indicate or state that he had a bomb.
The device and associated threats required various Los Angeles County bomb squads to assemble at banks in order to render the situation safe -- each process lasted several hours and required a lot of manpower, the FBI said.
In other robberies, witnesses described a handgun brandished by the suspect. During the robberies, the suspect ordered the teller for cash or passed notes to that effect.
-- City News Service contributed to this report.