POMONA — A Whittier parolee known to law enforcement as the “Stretch Bandit” admitted Wednesday robbing five San Gabriel Valley banks in 2011 and 2012 and evading police on a chase from West Covina to Whittier, officials said.
Jerry Lee Franklin, 40, entered a no contest plea in Pomona Superior Court to all the charges against him, which included five counts of second-degree robbery and one count of evading police.
“(Franklin) pleaded no contest today to all counts, just as a jury trial was set to begin,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
The plea was not part of a plea agreement, officials said.
He robbed a U.S. Bank in Hacienda Heights on June 6, 2011; a Bank of the West in Rowland Heights on July 12, 2011, and again on Jan. 11; a Rowland Heights Citibank on Jan. 14; and the First Federal Credit Union in West Covina April 23, according to FBI and district attorney’s officials.
Franklin was arrested following a police pursuit that began shortly after his final bank heist in West Covina, police said.
West Covina officers spotted the suspect, later identified as Franklin, driving but he refused to pull over. Officers chased him on the 10 and 605 freeways to Whittier, where he was arrested with the help of a police dog.
His girlfriend climbed into the driver-side window of Franklin’s van during the chase, officials added. She was initially arrested on suspicion of aiding Franklin, however district attorney’s officials declined to file charges against the woman, citing a lack of evidence.
Franklin faces 180 years to life in prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court for sentencing Oct. 1.
PHOTOS: TOP: Franklin being arrested in Whittier on April 23, 201(Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger). BELOW: Franklin, pictured in a bank surveillance photo during one of his robberies (courtesy of the FBI)