Highway 101 Bandit pleads guilty

A man in his sixties pleaded guilty Monday to an unarmed six-month bank-robbing spree across California and into Utah that netted more than $46,000.

Arthur Eli Cheney, 65, was dubbed the “Highway 101 Bandit” by federal investigators due to the number of heists he pulled off at federally insured banks along the Highway 101 corridor. He pled guilty in San Francisco Federal Court under a plea agreement, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Josh Eaton.

The Napa man's bank-robbing spree began June 18 in Fairfield and it ended on Dec. 12 after he was arrested following a robbery in Fairfield, the city where his spree had begun six months earlier.

Cheney was arrested after being pulled over for a traffic check by the California Highway Patrol in Yuba County. Officers discovered a three-inch by five-inch index card in Cheney's 2002 Mercedes marked with “robbery” and “50's and 100's Only” that matched the index card used in most of the robberies, according to Eaton.

The Napa man's biggest single take was $5,000 from a bank in Belmont; his smallest was $600 from a bank in Corte Madera.

On Sept. 18, he took $1,900 from a Bank of the West in San Marion after a failed robbery attempt 140 miles away on the other side of Los Angeles.

Cheney pled guilty to 19 felony counts for robbing or attempting to rob banks and credit unions in northern, eastern, central, and southern districts of California, and to one felony count for robbing a bank in Utah.

The entrepreneurial bandit was unarmed during all of his heists but he often told clerks he had a concealed pistol, according to court documents.

Cheney faces 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each of his 20 crimes, according to department spokesman Josh Eaton.

His sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 20 in San Francisco.

Cheney remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service Monday.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Highway 101 Bandit's crime-spree took him across California, into Utah

  • Jun 18, 2007: $4,000 stolen from the Umpqua Bank at Oliver Road, Fairfield
  • July 16, 2007: $7,750 stolen from the Bank of Marin at Baywood Drive, Petaluma
  • Aug. 8, 2007: $1,525 stolen from Bank of America at State Street, Santa Barbara
  • Aug. 11, 2007: $3,150 stolen from Citibank at Stevens Creek Boulevard, San Jose
  • Aug. 25, 2007: $1,672 stolen from Guaranty Bank at West Hamilton Avenue, Campbell
  • Aug. 30, 2007: $1,700 stolen from Umpqua Bank at Davis Street, Vacaville
  • Sept. 4, 2007: $3,900 stolen from Zions Bank in Sandy, Utah
  • Sept. 18, 2007: Failed robbery attempt at Community West Bank at South Westlake Boulevard, Westlake Village
  • Sept. 18, 2007: $1,900 stolen from Bank of the West at Huntington Drive, San Marion
  • Sept. 22, 2007: $1,000 stolen from California National Bank at San Vincente Boulevard, Brentwood
  • Oct. 4, 2007: $1,900 stolen from California Bank and Trust at Highway 111, Palm Desert
  • Oct. 30, 2007: $2,800 stolen from Bank of the West at Park Road, Burlingame
  • Nov. 8, 2007: $1,950 stolen from Ironstone Bank at Pearl Street, San Diego
  • Nov. 14, 2007: $2,300 stolen from California Bank & Trust at 675 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad
  • Nov. 19, 2007: $5,000 stolen from Citibank at Ralston Avenue, Belmont
  • Nov. 27, 2007: $1,100 stolen from Pacific Trust Bank at Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego
  • Dec. 3, 2007: $1,200 stolen from Mid-Peninsula Bank at Cowper Street, Palo Alto
  • Dec. 5, 2007: $600 stolen from Tamalpais Bank at Casa Buene Drive, Corte Madera
  • Dec. 10, 2007: $1,443 stolen from Provident Credit Union at Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park
  • Dec. 12, 2007: Undisclosed amount of money stolen from Bank of the West at Oliver Road, Fairfield

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

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