Tri-Cities bandit pleads guilty

A 39-year-old man known as the Tri-Cities bandit pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbing banks in several cities, including Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena, officials said.

Ernest Viana, 39, accepted a plea agreement, which required him to enter his guilty plea in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to six federal counts of bank robbery and using force or intimidation to steal, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Viana’s co-defendant, alleged getaway driver Oleg Gorokhovsky, 42, remains in custody, and his case is still pending, she added.

Viana was dubbed the Tri-Cities bandit following a series of robberies in Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena within a month, officials said. He robbed 12 banks, including three in Glendale, two in Pasadena and one in Burbank until he was finally nabbed on Aug. 19.

In the Glendale robbery, he stole $6,050 in cash on July 20 from a Wells Fargo bank in the 500 block of North Brand Boulevard.

Viana also passed a demand note on Aug. 17 to a teller at Bank of the West in the 2500 block of East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, according to a court plea agreement. In that robbery, he stole $900.

He was later linked to bank robberies in Tarzana, Brentwood, Chino Hills, Los Angeles and La Verne, according to the FBI.

In most robberies, he passed the bank teller a note demanding cash and was seen fleeing the area in a white Volkswagen Passat, according to the FBI.

Viana faces a maximum sentence of 125 months in prison and a fine of no more than $22,229, but the agreement must still be finalized by a judge, according to the court plea agreement.

Viana’s sentencing was set for March 12 in U.S. District Court.

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