Monday, 27 May 2024

Lakeport man pleads guilty to bank robberies, burglaries at Monday trial

MENDOCINO COUNTY – A Lakeport man has pleaded guilty to several felonies in connection to a series of bank robberies he is alleged to have committed around the North Coast last spring.

On Monday, as his trial was scheduled to get under way, Rick William Robison, 56, pleaded guilty to seven charges, according to a report from the office of Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott.

In Judge Rick Henderson's court Robison pleaded guilty to robbing Ukiah's Bank of America on March 24, 2009; a March 31, 2009, robbery at the Willits Chase Bank; an attempted robbery at Safeway in Willits on April 11, 2009; a robbery at the Hopland branch of the Savings Bank of Mendocino on May 20; and three burglaries in connection with the robberies of those banks.

The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office said that Robison also admitted all of the special allegations against him, including that he had suffered a prior strike for a bank robbery in Marin County in 2000; that he was charged with a "serious felony" with the prior "serious felony" conviction; and he had been to prison and not remained free from prison custody for a period of five years, based on going to prison for the Marin bank robbery as well as a felony reckless evading.

He's due in Mendocino County's Department A for judgment and sentencing on June 4.

The case against him was based on an extensive multi-agency investigation by the Ukiah Police Department, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and Willits Police Department, officials reported.

In all but the Hopland robbery, the amount taken was under $2,000. Hopland, where Robison was apprehended, briefly netted him close to $6,000, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

Robison was cooperative with law enforcement, providing statements to each agency. Detectives from both Sonoma and Napa counties came and questioned him about similar robberies in their jurisdictions.

Currently, Robison has a $100,000 warrant out of Napa County for a robbery from the Safeway there. After sentencing, he, most likely, will be taken to Napa to answer to those charges.

In carrying out the bank robberies Robison had a variety of things that he would use in order to disguise himself, according to the investigation.

Sometimes he had makeup and a cowboy's hat. Other times he would wear sunglasses and a baseball cap. Robison often wore boots that contained women's shoes that were cut in half, in order to make himself appear taller. He referred to these as "elevators."

When law enforcement was in pursuit, after the Savings Bank robbery, he was changing his clothes while he fled from the crime.

Though Robison never was armed, he would always use a demand note that stated he was. On one occasion, he referred to a friend that had a gun trained on the clerk. There was no such friend, but he allegedly caused fear in each of the teller's that he robbed.

Robison's plea constitutes three strikes, though it does not subject him to the state's Three Strike sentencing law, district attorney's officials reported. Those 25-to-life provisions would be available should Robison be convicted of any subsequent felony in the future.

Depending on some arguments to be made at sentencing, Robison's exposure in state prison is approximately 21 years, four months. He is not eligible for probation because he admitted his prior strike, the Marin robbery. His prison time will be served with only 15 percent credits, meaning that he will serve 85 percent of any sentence.

Prosecutor Steve Jackson handled the case, and public defender Linda Thompson represented Robison.

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