The so-called Central Coast Bandit, a middle-aged mother who robbed six banks in three counties, will receive a 20-year prison term under a plea deal reached in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Thursday.
Cristina Fernandez Padilla, 52, pleaded no contest to eight felonies, including several counts of second-degree robbery, evading a police officer, and assault with a car as a deadly weapon.
Padilla, of Watsonville, robbed banks in San Luis Obispo, Stanislaus and Monterey counties from December 2012 until August 2013.
On Aug. 23, she entered the Golden 1 Credit Union in San Luis Obispo and asked for coin rolls. The teller, having recognized Padilla from “wanted” posters, activated the bank’s hold-up alarm. Padilla, who left in a Chevy Malibu, later crashed her car while being chased by police in Paso Robles.
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Under the terms of her plea, she will receive a 16-year sentence for robbing four banks in San Luis Obispo County and two years apiece for each of the other counties. Padilla will have to serve at least 85 percent of that term.
Without the plea, she faced up to 32 years in prison.
While prosecutors in the other two counties were included in the discussions, Padilla will still have to appear in court there as well to formally enter her pleas and for sentencing.
At the time of the crimes, Padilla lived with her 11-year-old daughter. In an interview with The Tribune, Padilla said she needed money to feed and clothe her daughter and to move out of a dangerous neighborhood.
She has a prior burglary conviction from 2005, out of Monterey County.