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How a lottery jackpot winner became a bank robber

Mar 17, 2018, 9:19 am

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After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: How a lottery jackpot winner became a bank robberRating:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — 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.

On Thursday, James Allen Hayes, a security guard turned overnight millionaire, stood in a Los Angeles courtroom and pleaded guilty to committing a series of bank robberies. Hayes, 55, faces up to 80 years behind bars, with sentencing set for June 7 before U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin.

Hayes admitted to being the serial bank robber known to federal agents as both the Seasoned Bandit and PT Cruiser Bandit. His admission comes 20 years after he won a $19 million California Superlotto jackpot. The jackpot made him he second-largest Ventura County lottery winner ever.

When tracked down and arrested by the FBI in October, Hayes was living in a garage, authorities said.

Hayes was supposed to spend his days tinkering with his classic car, vacationing with his wife on a tropical beach and helping out his friends and family. Instead, he could spend the rest of his life in a federal prison, trying to kick a $1,000-a-week heroin habit.

'I know I'll change ...for the better'

Hayes was sure his string of bad luck had come to an end in 1998 when he won the $19 million jackpot. The odds of winning the prize were more than 18 million to 1, and good fortune seemed to be on his side.

Things were going to change for Hayes. He quit his night shift job with Dial Security in Ventura County. He would no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck. The IRS would get off his back and he'd soup up his '68 Camaro. He would be able to spend more time with his wife, who worked days, and they would be able to take a trip to Hawaii.

"I'm not going to blow the money," Hayes told the Los Angeles Timesback in 1998. "I know I'll change. But only for the better.... Mainly what I want to do is help out my family and friends in need."

The money couldn't have come at a better time.

"I don't have a savings account," Hayes admitted to the Times. "I have a restored muscle car."

But Hayes saw his winning as a sign of good things to come. He and his wife would buy a nice house together in Camarillo, and he'd keep playing the lottery because now luck was on his side. And he'd buy a new car, he told the local newspaper.

The PT Cruiser Bandit

It didn't take long for Hayes' life to fall apart. Not long after he won the lottery, he got divorced, and his ex-wife got half of the money, according to reports. Hayes walked away with a $6 million lump sum. It wasn't enough to support a serious drug habit. Spending $1,000 a week on heroin, Hayes blew through his winnings, according to investigators.

So the former security guard became a bank robber.

He was indicted last year in Los Angeles federal court in connection with a string of 10 heists between April and September in Pacific Palisades, Stevenson Ranch and Newhall. On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to bank robberies in Newhall, Valencia and Santa Barbara County, in which he got away with a total of about $40,000.

In each heist, Hayes used a note to rob the bank.

On May 24 of 2017, Hayes walked into a Union Bank on Carpinteria Avenue and slipped the teller with a note that read, "$5,000, no signals, no dye packs, no GPS, no sensors, no eye contact."

With the money from that haul, he bought himself a PT Cruiser, federal prosecutors allege. Formerly dubbed the "Seasoned Bandit" for his shock of white hair, he became known as the "PT Cruiser bandit" to FBI investigators closing in on him.

Hayes used the same method during each robbery.

On June 12, he gave a teller a note, threatening to shoot her. "Give me $10,000 in large bills. Be quick, I'm watching your every move. I have a gun," it said.

Hayes continued his spree, robbing two to three banks every month until investigators found him squatting in a garage in Ventura last October.

Hayes faces 80 years in prison when he's sentenced in June.

Back when he won the lottery, Hayes reflected on his life.

"I was very happy before this," Hayes told the Times. "This just tops it off."

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18 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Cassie8620.
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lejardin's avatar - Lottery-014.jpg

United States
Member #118605
November 4, 2011
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Posted: March 17, 2018, 9:39 am - IP Logged

How very sad.  $1,000 a week drug habit, yikes. 

    Avatar
    Simpsonville
    United States
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    January 22, 2015
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    Posted: March 17, 2018, 9:55 am - IP Logged

    This was so sad.  It really reminded me of David Edwards of E. KY who won a boatload in Powerball.  He too ended up on drugs and living in one of those PODS like structures.  Drugs did him in too, except that it cost him his life.

      Raven62's avatar - binary
      25
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #17842
      June 28, 2005
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      Posted: March 17, 2018, 10:09 am - IP Logged

      Fortunately he Won the Lottery!

      Unfortunately he Lacked the Character to Keep It!

      https://daringtolivefully.com/ben-franklin-thirteen-virtues

      A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

      Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

      Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

        CDanaT's avatar - Nolz june15.jpg
        Central TN
        United States
        Member #121189
        January 4, 2012
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        Posted: March 17, 2018, 10:10 am - IP Logged

        Walked away after the divorce with $6 Million and still couldn't live off that ?

        Let's seeeeeeeeeeeee....<tapping head like Winnie the Pooh>

        Grand a week for drugs,so that's $52K a year- round it up to $55 just for the holidays, being social and all.

        $6 Mill minus $500K for a nice house...$500K for frivolous( PT Cruiser <--ROFL)

        Leaves $5 Million for the ole nest egg....at 3-4% comfortably...gives $150-200K a year, minus taxes,...should leave around $110-130K clear minus the drugs... leaves $55-75K... yeup,that can be done.

        Now back to reality....................

        It's all gone and you are were robbing banks and probably will spend the rest of your life in a prison cell.

        Bash

        What a great story for the DARE program....

        Integrity: There is just no substitute.

          Avatar

          United States
          Member #164719
          March 12, 2015
          1300 Posts
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          Posted: March 17, 2018, 10:19 am - IP Logged

          That's a lot of bank robberies in a short period of time. Plus, a PT Cruiser?!  Come on!  He was begging to be caught. LOL  It was amazing he lasted as long as he did. 

          Read a book about bank robberies written by a FBI guy assigned to Los Angeles.  He said a lot of bank jobs are done in Santa Monica which is one of the worse areas to do it in.  There are only a few escape routes. As soon as the alarm goes out, local cops go to designated areas where they know the robbers will have to travel and wait for them to drive by. 

            Artist77's avatar - batman14

            United States
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            January 16, 2012
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            Posted: March 17, 2018, 10:38 am - IP Logged

            This is so sad. I just never understood the people who have millions of dollars and choose to do drugs . I would think, if one is not healthy, here is my chance to exercise every day, find time for a daily walk, set up a home gym, etc.

            Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grace.  We will rebuild!

              hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

              United States
              Member #52343
              May 21, 2007
              3261 Posts
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              Posted: March 17, 2018, 10:44 am - IP Logged

              Walked away after the divorce with $6 Million and still couldn't live off that ?

              Let's seeeeeeeeeeeee....<tapping head like Winnie the Pooh>

              Grand a week for drugs,so that's $52K a year- round it up to $55 just for the holidays, being social and all.

              $6 Mill minus $500K for a nice house...$500K for frivolous( PT Cruiser <--ROFL)

              Leaves $5 Million for the ole nest egg....at 3-4% comfortably...gives $150-200K a year, minus taxes,...should leave around $110-130K clear minus the drugs... leaves $55-75K... yeup,that can be done.

              Now back to reality....................

              It's all gone and you are were robbing banks and probably will spend the rest of your life in a prison cell.

              Bash

              What a great story for the DARE program....

              Stooges

                s5thomps's avatar - Lottery-033.jpg
                Hard Luck, Ak
                United States
                Member #23471
                October 13, 2005
                348 Posts
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                Posted: March 17, 2018, 11:33 am - IP Logged

                This would absolutely make a good episode of "The Curse of the Lottery." One thing for sure is that winning the lottery doesn't make a person smarter. His ex-wife dodge a bullet by getting out of the marriage. No one to blame but himself. He had the chance of a lifetime and blew it. "Stupid is as stupid does....Look at what being stupid does!" Bang Head

                "We make a living by what you get, You make a LIFE by what you give!"

                                                                               Sir Winston ChurchillSun Smiley

                  music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                  Fresno, California
                  United States
                  Member #157851
                  August 2, 2014
                  3866 Posts
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                  Posted: March 17, 2018, 11:48 am - IP Logged

                  This would absolutely make a good episode of "The Curse of the Lottery." One thing for sure is that winning the lottery doesn't make a person smarter. His ex-wife dodge a bullet by getting out of the marriage. No one to blame but himself. He had the chance of a lifetime and blew it. "Stupid is as stupid does....Look at what being stupid does!" Bang Head

                  I Agree! There have been so many stupid lottery winners. YouTube is full of them. 

                   Add Heroin to their life and that guarantees failure. 

                   At least David Lee Edwards did not rob banks when he spent all of his winnings. He had enough prison time before he won.

                   This bank robber is headed to Federal prison for the rest of his life. There is no parole from Federal prison. 

                  Hit With Stick

                  When will COVID-19 be finished?  A vaccine may protect all of us.

                    Avatar

                    United States
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                    Posted: March 17, 2018, 12:34 pm - IP Logged

                    Plea deal . . .

                    "Hayes is expected to pay restitution of approximately $39,424, the amount he gained in the robberies.

                    The plea deal requires him to surrender the light-colored Chrysler PT Cruiser he purchased using proceeds from the bank robberies.

                    He must make restitution “at or before the time of sentencing,” and agreed not to seek to discharge that obligation in a bankruptcy.

                    The maximum sentence Hayes faced was 20 years imprisonment per violation and fines totalling thousands of dollars.

                    He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on June 7.

                    While Hayes faced up to 80 years for the four robbery counts, the plea agreement contemplates a lesser sentence, although the final decision rests with the judge."

                      Avatar
                      Chasing $ Millions.
                      White Shores- California
                      United States
                      Member #136473
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                      Posted: March 17, 2018, 12:46 pm - IP Logged

                      Who in their right mind wants to mess with a drug that screws up your heart valves, gives you constipation? Not worth it at any price.

                       * Voice of Reason *   

                       

                      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                        Avatar
                        Kentucky
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                        Posted: March 17, 2018, 12:56 pm - IP Logged

                        Who in their right mind wants to mess with a drug that screws up your heart valves, gives you constipation? Not worth it at any price.

                        There is a reason they call it "dope". 

                        "You can't give a drunk $50, it will kill him."  --- Frankie Ballou

                          Perfecttiming2's avatar - redcross

                          United States
                          Member #65959
                          October 11, 2008
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                          Posted: March 17, 2018, 2:48 pm - IP Logged

                          Fortunately he Won the Lottery!

                          Unfortunately he Lacked the Character to Keep It!

                          https://daringtolivefully.com/ben-franklin-thirteen-virtues

                          So true Raven62!!!!

                          It is never the money that causes problems; its the mindset (or lack of character) behind it.

                          I heard someone once say that you could use a brick to build a house or break into a car...it is still a brick; it is what you do with it that matters and money is the same way.

                           

                          There are far too many people who have won the lottery jackpot and you never hear from them again because they move on in living their lives free from drama, drug, chaos etc. 

                          Unlike this guy, they don't have an issue with drug addiction

                          Unlike David Edwards, they take financial advise and stick to it and don't have an issue with battling drugs

                          Unlike Jack Whittaker, they know how to say "No" and don't spoil their family members enabling them to death (literally)

                          Unlike Marie Holmes they don't let toxic people drain their finances

                          Unlike Abraham Shakespeare they entrust their winnings to financial organization who specialize in wealth management and not to someone who will take their wealth and their life.

                          For each scenario that I mentioned here, there are hundreds of of jackpot winners all over this country who are living the dream in peace, protection and prosperity; sticking with their original plans, and enjoying a life of purpose!

                           

                          One of my favorite quotes is this:

                          "Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your character when you have everything"

                          There seem to be a lot of people on LP who get this quote...they educate themselves and share that knowledge with others.  They have vision and purpose with what to do "when it happens" and they will not end up of the list of names previously mentioned.

                            Raven62's avatar - binary
                            25
                            New Jersey
                            United States
                            Member #17842
                            June 28, 2005
                            126125 Posts
                            Online
                            Posted: March 17, 2018, 3:36 pm - IP Logged

                            So true Raven62!!!!

                            It is never the money that causes problems; its the mindset (or lack of character) behind it.

                            I heard someone once say that you could use a brick to build a house or break into a car...it is still a brick; it is what you do with it that matters and money is the same way.

                             

                            There are far too many people who have won the lottery jackpot and you never hear from them again because they move on in living their lives free from drama, drug, chaos etc. 

                            Unlike this guy, they don't have an issue with drug addiction

                            Unlike David Edwards, they take financial advise and stick to it and don't have an issue with battling drugs

                            Unlike Jack Whittaker, they know how to say "No" and don't spoil their family members enabling them to death (literally)

                            Unlike Marie Holmes they don't let toxic people drain their finances

                            Unlike Abraham Shakespeare they entrust their winnings to financial organization who specialize in wealth management and not to someone who will take their wealth and their life.

                            For each scenario that I mentioned here, there are hundreds of of jackpot winners all over this country who are living the dream in peace, protection and prosperity; sticking with their original plans, and enjoying a life of purpose!

                             

                            One of my favorite quotes is this:

                            "Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your character when you have everything"

                            There seem to be a lot of people on LP who get this quote...they educate themselves and share that knowledge with others.  They have vision and purpose with what to do "when it happens" and they will not end up of the list of names previously mentioned.

                            Thanks for sharing Perfecttiming2!

                            John Wooden was a great coach and an amazing person of true character. One of of his many quotes is the following: "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching."

                            A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                            Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

                            Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.