Former Atascadero mayor candidate hurt in car chase after trying to rob bank, police say

Former Atascadero mayoral candidate Charles John Scovell II in a March 2015 booking photo.
Former Atascadero mayoral candidate Charles John Scovell II in a March 2015 booking photo.

A former Atascadero mayoral candidate is in a local hospital with major injuries after he allegedly tried to rob a teller at Heritage Oaks Bank and led officers on a car chase, ultimately crashing the vehicle.

Charles John Scovell II, was taken into custody on Highway 41 near Bitterwater Road in unincorporated Kern County and remained in critical condition early Friday evening.

About 2:20 p.m. Friday, the Paso Robles Police Department received a report of an armed robbery in progress at the Heritage Oaks Bank on the 500 block of 12th Street. The caller said she was a customer in one of the bank’s drive-thru lanes and saw another drive-thru customer attempting to force the bank teller to give him money.

Officers arrived just as Scovell allegedly drove away from the bank. They followed Scovell and attempted to pull him over at 13th Street. Scovell briefly got out of the vehicle, then got back inside and drove north on Spring Street with officers in pursuit, according to a department news release.

Scovell then pulled onto Highway 46 East, and the pursuit continued beyond the Paso Robles city limits, where it was turned over to the CHP, with Paso Robles officers trailing behind.

The chase came to a halt after Scovell crashed the vehicle, which police say was stolen. No one else was injured in the incident, and no money was turned over in the alleged attempted robbery.

It’s unclear whether a weapon was used in the incident.

Ron Yukelson, spokesman for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, said Scovell was airlifted to the hospital in San Luis Obispo, where he was being evaluated in the Intensive Care Unit.

Scovell has had several run-ins with the law since his 2014 mayoral bid, which he lost to incumbent Tom O’Malley 59 percent to 40 percent.

In June, Scovell accepted a plea deal in a domestic violence case stemming from an hourslong standoff with police Jan. 15. Scovell pleaded no contest to two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

At the time, Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy spared Scovell prison time if he stayed out of trouble for five years. According to the deal, if Scovell reoffended within that time, he could be sentenced to as many as 14 years in state prison.

At the time of that ruling, Scovell was facing DUI and hit-and-run charges for a March 2015 incident in which he allegedly crashed his vehicle into a fence and a tree in Atascadero, injuring his passenger.

Scovell’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. He told The Tribune in March that Scovell has a problem with substance abuse but was working through it.

“Mr. Scovell’s got some serious problems. I won’t make light of that,” Funke-Bilu said at the time, referring to alcohol and drugs.

“You take those (substances) out of his life, and he’s the nicest guy in the world.”

The Paso Robles Police Department said it plans to recommend charges of attempted robbery, terrorist threats, auto theft and evading arrest.

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