Newport Beach man arrested in 'rolled-sleeves bandit' bank robberies

This post has been corrected, as noted below

A Newport Beach man is suspected of being the "rolled-sleeves bandit" responsible for stealing more than $21,000 from seven banks on the Southern California coast, authorities said Friday.

Police arrested Damian Newhart, a former dentist, on Thursday at a dental office in Inglewood after someone recognized him from security footage the FBI distributed to local media, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

State officials revoked Newhart's dental license in 2014 after they determined that he wrote fraudulent prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs for his own use, according to online records.

Newhart is being held at a Los Angeles County jail with bail set at $50,000. The FBI said Newhart is 38; Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department jail records say he is 40.

The bandit in the seven robberies got his nickname because he wore button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled up, according to the FBI.

He also followed a pattern during the heists, authorities said.

He typically distracted a teller by saying he was a signatory on his girlfriend's bank account and asking for verification of that information, according to the FBI.

He would then demand cash verbally or with a note, saying he had a gun.

Authorities say the bandit robbed three banks in Huntington Beach: a Citibank at 20981 Magnolia St. on Dec. 6; and, on Wednesday, a Bank of the West at 19006 Brookhurst St. and a U.S. Bank at 19900 Beach Blvd.

According to the FBI, other heists occurred Nov. 14 in Hermosa Beach, Dec. 22 in Manhattan Beach and Jan. 14 and Monday in Santa Monica.

Newhart is on probation in Orange County, according to court records.

The district attorney's office charged him in 2013 with 45 felony counts of forging or altering prescriptions. Newhart agreed to plead guilty to one of the charges as part of a deal with prosecutors, according to Edward Flores, Newhart's attorney at the time. The rest of the charges were dropped.

A judge sentenced Newhart to 90 days in jail and five years' probation.

The conviction led the Dental Board of California to revoke Newhart's license.

According to the board's written decision, Newhart admitted that he wrote fraudulent prescriptions for Vicodin and other powerful painkillers to himself and others to feed his addiction to the pills. He also prescribed himself Viagra, according to the board document.

In 2010, Newhart pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of grand theft and passing a bad check, according to court records.

[For the record, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 3: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Newhart as an orthodontist. Although Newhart called his business an orthodontics practice, he was licensed only as a general dentist.]

 

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