A man who once won millions of dollars in the California Lottery pleaded guilty Thursday in downtown Los Angeles to four counts of bank robbery.
James Allen Hayes faces up to 80 years behind bars, with sentencing set for June 7 before U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit a light-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser, which was used in some of the robberies and earned him one of his two monikers — the “PT Cruiser Bandit.”
Hayes, 55, was also dubbed the “Seasoned Bandit” by the FBI due to the robber’s gray/white hair.
Hayes was indicted last winter in Los Angeles federal court in connection with a string of 10 bank heists between April and September in Pacific Palisades, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia, Newhall and elsewhere.
He pleaded guilty to four heists in Newhall, Valencia and Santa Barbara County, in which he got away with a total of about $40,000. In each case, Hayes slipped a note to the teller demanding cash and threatening to shoot if the employee did not comply.
Hayes was working in Ventura as a security guard supervisor on the graveyard shift in January 1998 when he learned he had won the SuperLotto jackpot — a one-in-18 million chance. According to media reports, his ex-wife got half of the money and Hayes ended up with a $6 million lump sum and a $1,000-a-week heroin habit.
When tracked down and arrested by the FBI in October, Hayes was living in a garage, authorities said.
—City News Service