Willie Thomas robbed eight San Francisco banks in early 2022 “threatening staff with violence and death” according to prosecutors. Arrested in February, he was bailed, but cut off his GPS ankle monitor and fled. When rearrested he spent a month in custody, was bailed again, then committed another robbery.
Thomas hit Wells Fargo at 3801 3rd St (1/25/22), Chase at 2900 Mission and Wells Fargo at 655 8th St (1/27/22), Bank of the West at 2675 San Bruno Ave (2/2/22), Chase at 1811 19th Ave and Wells Fargo at 2300 16th Ave (2/5/22), US Bank at 4610 Mission St (2/9/23) and US Bank at 4947 3rd St (2/17/23).
In all $25,000 was stolen in Thomas’ robbery spree. “The tellers interacting with the defendant were terrified” the court was told.
Thomas was arrested to great fanfare on February 17 2022. Less well publicized was his prompt release on bail, whereupon he cut off his ankle monitor and went on the lam until his rearrest weeks later in the Tenderloin in possession of heroin and cocaine.
Federal prosecutors then took over. At an April 22, 2022 hearing they noted Thomas’ “extensive criminal record” and said there was “a serious and highly probable risk that […] release would result in [him] once again robbing banks to fuel his […] drug use.”
Nevertheless at that hearing U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson ordered the defendant “to be evaluated for residential drug treatment at New Bridge [Foundation]” and one month later, on May 26, he ordered his release into release into residential drug treatment.
By July 2022 things had started to go wrong and, at a bail review hearing on July 20, prosecutors reported “concerns about the defendant’s behavior” while at New Bridge. The court “admonished defendant about his behavior and the consequences of it.”
In late August the court was told that Thomas had become “a danger to the community” and ought to be detained. Instead Judge Hixson “strongly admonished defendant about his conduct” and set a status hearing for September 15.
Mr Thomas failed to heed the judge’s words of fatherly advice, however, opting instead to commit a further robbery on Market St in San Francisco for which he was arrested by SFPD on September 9.
At a hearing on March 8, 2023 Mr Thomas pled guilty to several counts of bank robbery by way of a plea agreement. He will be sentenced on June 7, 2023 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco before Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.
Read more details in this Motion to Detain filed in 2022.
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