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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Thursday, February 9, 2017

“Bearded Bandit” Sentenced To 45 Months In Prison For Bank Robbery Spree

OAKLAND – Kenneth Michael Ellis was sentenced today to 45 months in prison for bank robberies covering much of Northern California, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

Ellis, 31, from Stockton, pleaded guilty on November 16, 2016, to eight separate counts of unarmed bank robbery and agreed to pay more than $28,000 in restitution.  According to the plea agreement, Ellis admitted to using force or intimidation to rob banks in Fremont, Gilroy, Concord, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Lafayette.  Ellis typically entered the banks wearing dark glasses and a hat, approached the victim tellers to ask to cash a check, and presented a note that demanded money and told the tellers not to take certain actions.

Ellis admitted the following robberies:

  • $3,000 from a Chase Bank branch in Fremont, California, on February 12, 2016
  • $4,400 from a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Gilroy, California, on March 4, 2016
  • $3,180 from a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Concord, California, on March 11, 2016
  • $1,700 from a US Bank branch in Dublin, California, on March 15, 2016
  • $1,083 from a US Bank branch in Gilroy, California, on March 16, 2016
  • $1,434 from a US Bank branch in Fremont, California, on March 17, 2016
  • $5,145 from a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Pleasanton, California, on March 17, 2016
  • $4,600 from a Chase Bank branch in Lafayette, California, on March 21, 2016

As part of his plea agreement, Ellis also agreed to pay restitution to the following banks as a result of robberies he committed in the Eastern District of California:

  • $1,000 to Chase Bank located at 5010 Elk Grove Boulevard, Elk Grove, California (for a robbery on March 1, 2016)
  • $1,400 to Wells Fargo Bank located at 3518 Marconi Avenue, Sacramento, California (for a robbery on March 1, 2016)
  • $1,500 to Bank of Stockton located at 230 Main Street, Rio Vista, California (for a robbery on March 21, 2016).

Media reports of the robberies described Ellis as the “Bearded Bandit,” recounting the description provided of the suspect and the car he used during this multi-agency investigation in a number of law enforcement bulletins.  Ellis was arrested on March 23, 2016, by the Brentwood Police Department after they received a call from a citizen who reported seeing someone who fit the description of the robbery suspect.  

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Judge.  Judge Gonzalez Rogers also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release.  Ellis, who has been in custody since his March 2016 arrest, will begin serving his sentence immediately. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina McCall is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Quant, Melissa Dorton, and Noble Hughes.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Offices of the Eastern and Northern Districts of California, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, the Brentwood Police Department, the Concord Police Department, the Gilroy Police Department, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the Fremont Police Department, the Pleasanton Police Department, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, the Elk Grove Police Department, the Rio Vista Police Department, and the Dixon Police Department.

Violent Crime
Updated February 22, 2017