|For Immediate Release
March 5, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
“TOP BUTTON BANDIT” CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SERIAL BANK ROBBERIES
SANTA ANA – A man known as the “Top Button Bandit” pleaded guilty to the court today to four bank robberies and two attempted bank robberies. Patrick Lawrence, 31, Huntington Beach, dubbed the “Top Button Bandit” by law enforcement because his shirts were buttoned up to the top button during his heists, was sentenced to eight years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution. He pleaded guilty to four felony counts of second degree robbery, two felony counts of attempted robbery, and four prison prior sentencing enhancements were found true.
On Oct. 14, 2008, at approximately 11:30 a.m., Lawrence entered the Bank of America located at 1418 N. Main Street in Santa Ana. He approached the teller and handed her a note that read “No alarms. No ink dye. No microchips. Your every move is being watch. From your teller only. $20s $50s $100s.” The teller, fearing for her safety, handed him $2,000, and Lawrence fled the scene.
On Oct. 18, 2008, at approximately 2:45 p.m., Lawrence walked into the Wells Fargo Bank located at 19840 Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. He approached the teller and handed him a note that read “No alarms. You and everyone in here are being watched so to protect yourself and the people in here no microchips no ink dye no alarms out of your teller only $20s $50s $100s.” Afraid of the defendant, the teller handed him $2,060, and Lawrence fled the scene.
On Nov. 5, 2008, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Lawrence walked into the Citibank located at 518 N. Broadway Street in Santa Ana. Lawrence approached the teller and handed her a similar note with the same demands as the others. The teller, fearing for her safety, handed him $3,300, and Lawrence fled the scene.
On Nov. 8, 2008, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Lawrence called a taxicab to pick him up at the Westminster Motor Inn. He told the driver that he needed to cash a check and asked him to take him to the Downey Savings Bank. Once they arrived at the bank, the defendant got out and then returned to the taxicab a minute later and told the driver that the bank was closed. He then asked the driver to take him to a nearby U.S. Bank. Again, the defendant got out, then returned one minute later stating that the bank was closed. He asked the driver to take him to the nearby Wells Fargo Bank at 7902 Edinger in Huntington Beach. In that instance, Lawrence went inside the bank and approached the teller with a note that said, “No alarms. Protect yourself and everyone in here. Out of your teller only $20s, $50s, $100s only. No microchips, no ink dye.” Unsure of what the note meant, the teller called over the manager and showed her the note. The manager, fearing for her safety and the safety of the other customers, handed Lawrence $656. He then fled the scene by taxi.
Deputy District Attorney Sandra Nassar of the Career Criminal Unit prosecuted this case.