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Justice News

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Oakland Resident Pleads Guilty To 19 Bank Robberies Across Northern California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Duane Kurt Makela pleaded guilty in federal court today to ten armed bank robberies, seven unarmed bank robberies, and two attempted bank robberies across Northern California, announced Northern District of California Acting U.S. Attorney Adam A. Reeves, Eastern District of California U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The plea was accepted by Charles R. Breyer, Senior U.S. District Judge.

Makela, 50, of Oakland, admitted in open court that between March 2018 and February 2019, he committed or attempted to commit 19 robberies of banks and credit unions largely located in the San Francisco Bay Area but also in towns in or near the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  As part of his plea, Makela agreed that he entered the banks and credit unions and demanded that employees hand over money.  Makela further acknowledged that during each armed robbery, he brandished what appeared to be a handgun and directed employees of the banks and credit unions to hand over money.  In total, Makela stole $69,002.

Makela robbed the following banks and credit unions on the following dates:





1.  Armed Bank Robbery

March 21, 2018

Pacific Service Credit Union

Pleasant Hill, CA

2.  Bank Robbery

March 24, 2018

Wells Fargo Bank

South Lake Tahoe, CA

3.  Bank Robbery

March 30, 2018

U.S. Bank

Oakland, CA

4.  Armed Bank Robbery

April 11, 2018

Pacific Service Credit Union

San Ramon, CA

5.  Armed Bank Robbery

April 13, 2018

Comerica Bank

Palo Alto, CA

6.  Bank Robbery

April 17, 2018

Bank of the West

Orinda, CA

7. Attempted Bank Robbery

May 11, 2018

U.S Bank

San Ramon, CA

8. Armed Bank Robbery

May 12, 2018

Chase Bank

Oakland, CA

9.  Bank Robbery

May 24, 2018

Sierra Central Credit Union

South Lake Tahoe, CA

10. Bank Robbery

June 6, 2018

U.S. Bank

Roseville, CA

11. Armed Bank Robbery

June 12, 2018

U.S. Bank

Pollack Pines, CA

12. Armed Bank Robbery

August 25, 2018

Wells Fargo Bank

Mill Valley, CA

13. Attempted Bank Robbery

October 18, 2018

First Republic Bank

Burlingame, CA

14. Armed Bank Robbery

October 19, 2018

Meriwest Credit Union

Mountain View, CA

15. Armed Bank Robbery

October 22, 2018

Chase Bank

South San Francisco, CA

16. Bank Robbery

November 3, 2018

Wells Fargo Bank

Orinda, CA

17. Armed Bank Robbery

November 5, 2018

U.S. Bank

Alameda, CA

18. Armed Bank Robbery

December 23, 2018

U.S. Bank

Castro Valley, CA

19. Bank Robbery

February 4, 2019

Wells Fargo Bank

Palo Alto, CA

On May 7, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Makela, charging him with four counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and one count of unarmed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a).   On September 25, 2019, Makela waived his right to indictment, and to venue for those charges arising out of the Eastern District of California, and he was arraigned on a Superseding Information alleging the above crimes.  Today, he pleaded guilty to all 19 counts in the Superseding Information.

Judge Breyer scheduled Makela’s sentencing for January 15, 2020.   The maximum statutory penalties for each armed bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), are 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The maximum statutory penalties for each unarmed bank robbery and attempted bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), are 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  In addition, the court may order a term of supervised release, restitution, and special assessments.  However, any sentence following conviction will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Northern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Walsh and Alex Tse are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon and Margoth Turcios.  Eastern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez assisted.  

The prosecution is the result of investigations by the FBI with assistance from the police departments of Pleasant Hill, Orinda, Daly City, South Lake Tahoe, Oakland, San Ramon, Palo Alto, Roseville, Burlingame, Mountain View, South San Francisco, and Alameda, as well as the Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Marin County, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Offices. 

Updated October 4, 2019