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Ex-LAPD detective suspected of being Snowbird Bandit was a heavy gambler, FBI says

Randolph Bruce Adair, 70, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of robbing five banks in south Orange County. He is a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective.

Randolph Bruce Adair, 70, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of robbing five banks in south Orange County. He is a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective.

(FBI)

Retired Los Angeles police Det. Randolph Bruce Adair lived on a modest pension. But he had a heavy gambling habit, according to a federal affidavit.

And for investigators who suspect the white-haired 70-year-old of being the Snowbird Bandit responsible for five bank robberies, that goes a long way in explaining his motivation.

Adair remained jailed Friday, days after his wife, daughter and son-in-law called authorities to report that he was the elusive bank robber, according to the affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

Adair’s family members saw recent news reports about the Snowbird Bandit and recognized the suspect in surveillance photographs.

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When Adair was arrested Wednesday in a parking lot in Rancho Santa Margarita, investigators found $1,120 in Del Mar race track betting receipts inside his red 2010 Dodge Nitro, according to the affidavit.

At the police station, deputies showed Adair surveillance photographs from one of the robberies, and he allegedly said: “I’m cooked, I think I should have a lawyer.”

Adair was named in a criminal complaint accusing him of stealing $1,658 from the First Citizens Bank in Rancho Santa Margarita on Tuesday.

In a federal affidavit issued Friday, FBI Special Agent Christopher Gicking said the former Rampart Division detective was the bandit who walked into the bank, approached the teller and presented a demand note.

The robber said nothing, but the note spoke loudly.

“I have a gun, give me large bills. No trash,” it read.

Fearing for her safety, the teller grabbed cash from her drawer and gave it to him. During the robbery, Gicking said, the bandit wore a light green shirt, eyeglasses and a tan fedora.

The Snowbird Bandit had been the subject of a manhunt by the FBI and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department since March, according to the affidavit.

When Adair was arrested, investigators found a receipt showing he’d deposited $300 into his wife’s bank account, and a receipt for a $100 cash deposit into his own bank account, according to the affidavit. The deposits were made Wednesday, a day after the robbery.

Investigators said they recovered a handgun from beneath the front seat of his Dodge.

His daughter later notified investigators about a storage locker she shared with Adair. Inside the storage locker, investigators found a tan fedora and light green shirt similar to the one the bandit wore during Tuesday’s robbery, the affidavit said.

Adair was with the Los Angeles Police Department for 21 years.

He was hired by the LAPD in December 1967 and retired on Oct. 5, 1988, according to Officer Liliana Preciado, a police spokeswoman.

In a 1998 interview with the Orange County Register, Adair said he was one of the officers involved in the arrest of Sirhan Sirhan for the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968.

“He had a wild look in his eye,” Adair told the newspaper about Sirhan. “He didn’t say a word. We got the people pushed back and other officers handcuffed him.”

After the killing, Adair said, he escorted Kennedy’s wife and astronaut John Glenn to a hospital.

The LAPD declined to provide details about Adair’s work history. Family members declined to comment or did not respond to calls from the Los Angeles Times.

In 2000, Adair filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the case was later discharged, according to U.S. District Court documents.

This year, Adair received $34,408 from his pension, according to Ray Ciranna, general manager of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions. Adair’s monthly pension was $2,868.80 as of July 1.

Times staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA.

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