A retired LAPD detective dubbed the Snowbird Bandit pleaded guilty Friday to robbing a Rancho Santa Margarita bank and brandishing a gun in the heist in a plea deal that could get him more than nine years behind bars.

Randolph Bruce Adair. Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Randolph Bruce Adair, 70, of Rancho Santa Margarita, indicted in August on charges of robbing five Orange County banks, would have the other charges dropped at his sentencing, which is scheduled for May 20.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will recommend 114 months in prison, according to court records.

Adair admitted the May 22 robbery of First Citizens Bank branch in the 29800 block of Santa Margarita Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita. He got away with $1,190 in that heist, according to his plea deal.

Adair also was charged with:

  • A March 20 robbery of $1,731 at a California Bank and Trust branch in the 24000 block of Camino Del Avion in Dana Point.
  • A June 11 stickup of a Wells Fargo Bank branch in the 24400 block of Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo that netted $944.
  • A July 6 heist of about $3,600 at a U.S. Bank branch in the 100 block of Corporate Drive in Ladera Ranch.
  • A July 21 robbery of $1,658 from the First Citizens Bank branch in the at 29800 block of Rancho Margarita Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita, the same bank Adair admitted to robbing in May.
  • Adair is accused of brandishing a firearm during the May 22, June 11, and July 6 robberies, the indictment alleges.

    After authorities circulated video surveillance photos of the suspect, the defendant’s family called investigators and said Adair “is retired, on a fixed income, and a heavy gambler,” according to FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking.

    Adair worked for the Los Angeles Police Department from December 1967 to October 1988.

    When Adair was shown surveillance video photos of the Snowbird Bandit, he said, “I’m cooked. I think I should have a lawyer,” according to Gicking.

    According to Gicking, when Adair was being arrested, authorities found $1,120 in Del Mar race track betting receipts on the defendant. His arresting officers also found a $300 cash deposit receipt in his wife’s bank account and a receipt for a $100 cash deposit in his own account. All of the receipts were dated July 22.

    Investigators also recovered a tan fedora and light-green, button-up shirt in a storage locker of the defendant’s that matches what the Snowbird Bandit is seen wearing in surveillance video, according to the FBI.

    The FBI coined the Snowbird Bandit moniker based on the suspect’s age and appearance.

    Adair told the Orange County Register in 1998 that as a rookie cop, he was among the officers who responded to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following the assassination of presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, and witnessed the arrest of gunman Sirhan Sirhan.

    He told the paper he helped control the crowd while officers cuffed Sirhan. Relatives said Adair escorted Kennedy’s wife and astronaut John Glenn to the hospital where the senator was taken.

    Adair’s family members told the Register that he rescued seven people from a burning low-income home around 1970. They also said he worked on the Freeway Strangler and Night Stalker serial murder cases, and has had a series of heart attacks in the past couple of years.

    — City News Service

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