Sunday, 03 March 2024

Ukiah man admits to committing January bank robbery

Dean Michael Stevens, 54, of Ukiah, California, has admitted to robbing the Chase Bank branch in Ukiah on January 19, 2021. Courtesy photo.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — On Friday, a Ukiah man facing a jury trial admitted to committing a January robbery of a Ukiah bank.

Dean Michael Stevens, age 54, entered a no contest plea in Mendocino County Superior Court to the robbery, the Mendocino District Attorney’s Office reported.

A no contest plea to a felony charge is the same legally as a guilty plea, officials said.

Stevens also admitted a strike sentencing enhancement alleging a felony robbery conviction in Sonoma County Superior Court in 2015.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder accepted Stevens’ change of plea Friday afternoon.

Stevens’ trial on the charges was scheduled to begin Monday.

As part of the no contest plea agreement, the District Attorney’s Office required the defendant to agree to a 10-year state prison term.

Robbery is a violent felony so any work or good time credits earned by Stevens will be limited to no more than 15 percent of the prison time.

Formal sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 9.

The Ukiah Police Department reported that on Jan. 19 its dispatch received a report of a robbery that just occurred at the Chase Bank on State Street.

Officers responded to the bank and began an investigation, canvassing the area for the responsible subject. Within minutes of arriving at the bank, officers were provided with still photographs from the bank’s surveillance system that showed the man who committed the robbery.

A bank employee reported the male approached her bank window and verbally advised her that this was a “robbery” and to “Give me the money.” He did not show a weapon, but the employee was placed in a state of fear, based on the suspect’s words. She gave him more than $3,000 and he left the bank with the stolen money.

The Ukiah Police Department said its officers reviewed the surveillance photos and recognized the male subject from numerous prior contact as Stevens, who was known to be on Post Release Community Supervision through the Mendocino County Probation Department.

Officers researched prior contacts with Stevens and were able to identify a vehicle that Stevens had been contacted in within the prior week. A “be on the lookout” was broadcast to surrounding law enforcement agencies, advising that Stevens was wanted for the robbery. This BOLO included the identifying information for the vehicle associated with Stevens.

Just after 1:30 a.m. the following day, an on-duty Mendocino County Sheriff’s sergeant contacted the Ukiah Police Department to advise that he located the vehicle in the parking lot of the Travel Lodge on North State Street.

Ukiah Police officers arrived at that location, confirmed the vehicle matched the one associated with Stevens and also confirmed that Stevens was a registered guest at the motel.

The officers and the sergeant contacted Stevens in a motel room and searched the room and the vehicle as they are allowed to do under Stevens’ Post Release Community Supervision terms.

Authorities said the search resulted in officers locating a bag of cash, the same clothing as worn by the man who committed the robbery and other evidence that connected Stevens to the robbery. Stevens was subsequently arrested without incident and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.

District Attorney David Eyster prosecuted the case.

The law enforcement agencies that developed evidence in the case were the Ukiah Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the State Parole office.

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