‘Big Hat Bandit’ pleads guilty to bank robbery series

A man sporting a large straw hat and a restaurant-style apron robbed an East County credit union office Tuesday.

SAN DIEGO – A man who held up tellers at two banks and two credit unions in San Diego County — including three in 11 days — pleaded guilty Thursday to robbery and attempted robbery charges.

Leroy Callahan, 45, faces between two and four years in state prison when he is sentenced March 2.

Deputy District Attorney James Koerber said Callahan used a note to hold up California Coast Credit Union in La Mesa of $773 on July 11, First Citizens Bank on West Main Street in El Cajon of $836 on July 14, and $2,408 from Navy Federal Credit Union on July 22.

Callahan also tried to rob a teller at a Wells Fargo bank on Cleveland Street in San Diego on Sept. 23, but ran off with no money.

The defendant wore sunglasses and a straw hat or baseball cap during the first two robberies and was dubbed the “Big Hat Bandit.”