Accused serial bank robber ‘Bad Grandpa bandit’ faces judge

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SAN DIEGO – The man dubbed the "Bad Grandpa" bandit faced a judge Friday to learn if he’ll stand trial.

James Saputo was arrested in connection with 11 bank robberies between February and March of 2016. Four of the robberies happened in San Diego County.

“He said do not scream, that’s a threat to me,” said a victim.

In the preliminary hearing, three bank employees of San Diego banks took the stand to testify against Saputo.

“He just got something out of his pocket, like a small paper,” said the victim.

The woman who was a supervisor at a Mira Mesa bank said Saputo came into her bank on March 22 with a written note demanding large bills.

She testified she gave him $2,600.

“He said, 'I’m sorry I did this to you' and left,” said the woman.

Another young man who works at the Bank of America in Encinitas said Saputo came into his bank a month earlier.

“He just repeated the same thing over and over again: 'Give me 100’s, don’t press the alarm,'” said the teller.

The teller did not give Saputo what he wanted and he left.

“I felt like it was wrong to give him the money,” said the man.

The most telling testimony came from the Branch Manager of the Rancho Bernardo Mission Federal Credit Union. The manager said Saputo walked into the bank on February 22 and she immediately knew something was wrong.

“When I saw him, I immediately thought that he might rob us. I just knew because I had been robbed before," she said.

The manager said she had been a victim of 10 previous robberies.

“He was wearing a wig, he continued to look down. He didn’t look at any of us,” said the woman.

She said Saputo handed her the same note and without question, he was given more than $3,800.

“He took it straight from my hand, never touched me, the counter,” said the manager.

All three bank employees said Saputo always had a disguise and he never showed a weapon.

Testimony is expected to wrap Monday with the last victim and then the judge will decide if the case will move to trial.

Prosecutors said Saputo’s criminal record dates back to 1986 with 14 prior convictions, including bank robberies in Del Mar and San Marcos.

If convicted, he faces a life term in prison.