Whittier man accused of being “Stretch Bandit” serial bank robber

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Prosecutors Wednesday charged a Whittier parolee the FBI knows as the “Stretch Bandit” with five San Gabriel Valley bank robberies following his arrest last month at the end of a police chase, authorities said.
Jerry Lee Franklin, 39, was charged with five counts of second-degree robbery, as well as one count of evading police, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“Franklin is suspected of robbing a U.S. Bank in Hacienda Heights on July 6, 2011; a Bank of the West in Rowland Heights on July 12, 2011, and again on Jan. 11 2012; a Citibank in Rowland Heights on Jan. 14; and the First Federal Credit Union in West Covina on April 23,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. “The complaint alleges Franklin has prior serious felony convictions.”
He was arrested April 23, just after the West Covina bank robbery, West Covina police officials said at the time.
After robbing the bank at 2530 East Workman Ave., shortly after 10 a.m., Franklin led officials on a chase in a white can, West Covina police Lt. Alan Henley said the day of the arrest.
The chase went down the 10 and 605 freeways before the van came to a halt in Franklin’s hometown of Whittier.
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“(Franklin) was taken into custody after a police dog was sent into the van,” Robison said.
“At one point, he allegedly slowed his white van (in Whittier) and his girlfriend grabbed onto the side of the van and crawled into the driver’s side window,” Robison added. The girlfriend, also from Whittier, was initially arrested on suspicion of aiding Franklin, however prosecutors ultimately declined to file a case against her due to a lack of evidence.
If convicted as charged, Franklin could face more than 21 years in state prison, officials said. Franklin, who has been held without bail to his status as a parolee, is due in West Covina Superior Court court Thursday for an arraignment, Robison said. Prosecutors will ask that the judge set his bail at $1.2 million.
PHOTOS: Bank surveillance photos courtesy of the FBI. Photo of Franklin’s April 21, 2012 arrest by SGVN staff.
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