Dallas Man Known As “Baja Bandit” Admits Committing Armed Robberies Of Local Insurance Businesses
DALLAS — A Dallas man, who admitted committing the armed robberies of insurance companies in Dallas last year, has pleaded guilty to federal charges, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Michael Dewayne Cleveland, 31, pleaded guilty this morning, before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan, to four of seven counts charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas in December 2013. Specifically, Cleveland pleaded guilty to two count of interference with commerce by robbery and two counts of carrying or possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Cleveland faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each robbery conviction. For the first firearm conviction, he faces seven years in federal prison, because he brandished the weapon, which will run consecutively to all other charges. For the second firearm conviction, he faces 25 years in federal prison that will also run consecutively to all other charges. Sentencing is set for October 15, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Ed Kindeade.
According to plea documents filed in the case, Cleveland admitted entering a Baja Insurance company office in Dallas on September 3, 2013, approaching an employee with a gun drawn and demanding money. He admitted stating, “Tell me where it’s at or I’m gonna kill you.” The employee, in fear for her life, pointed to a desk drawer. Cleveland, later dubbed the “Baja Bandit,” took the money from the drawer and left the location.
Cleveland also admitted entering a State Farm Insurance company office in Dallas on September 18, 2013, pulling out a gun, pointing it at employees and demanding money. Two employees, in fear for their lives, complied with Cleveland’s demands. Cleveland took money and credit cards from the business and fled.
Baja Insurance lost money as a direct result of the robbery, temporarily closed its office and lost several employees who feared for their safety. The State Farm office also lost money as a direct result of the robbery, temporarily closed its office and the branch made less in overall monthly proceeds. The robberies had a direct effect on both company’s revenue and commerce.
The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Dallas Police Department investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Taly Haffar is in charge of the prosecution.