Neuroscientist with Ph.D. to stand trial in string of bank robberies

The man the FBI accuses of a rash of local credit union robberies is a neuroscientist with a Ph.D.

SAN DIEGO — A former postdoctoral neuroscience researcher at UC San Diego who’s accused of carrying out a series of credit union heists throughout San Diego County was ordered Friday to stand trial on nearly a dozen robbery and attempted robbery charges.

Karl W. Doron, 43, who holds a doctorate in psychological and brain sciences, is charged in a string of bank robberies between Dec. 28 and March 5 in various parts of San Diego, as well as Chula Vista.

He was arrested March 5 upon leaving the Navy Federal Credit Union at 6755 Mira Mesa Blvd., after he allegedly demanded cash from the employees. He was carrying a loaded handgun and just over $5,000 in cash when taken into custody, according to police and prosecutors.

At Doron’s two-day preliminary hearing, detectives Mark Haas and Dewayne Glazewski testified that investigators tracked Doron down through his car, which was photographed by a bank teller following an attempted robbery. Surveillance footage from another incident also captured the car’s license plate, which was registered to Doron, they said.

In most of the robberies he’s accused of committing, Doron is not accused of being armed or using force, but rather securing cash through verbal demands or notes slipped to bank tellers. He made off with anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 in each robbery, and between $10,000 and $15,000 total, Deputy District Attorney Andy Aguilar alleged.

Following his arrest, investigators searched Doron’s home in Clairemont and found some clothes matching apparel the suspect was seen wearing in surveillance footage. Investigators also found a calculator, which the suspect allegedly held up to his ear as though it were a cellphone during some of the robberies.

Doron’s attorneys alleged there was nothing strange about a data scientist owning such an item, and also noted that bait money the suspect is accused of taking, as well as much of the suspect’s clothing items seen in surveillance footage, were not found in searches of his home or car.

Doron’s LinkedIn page indicates he graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 and previously served as an infantry squad leader in the Marine Corps. His last entry on the LinkedIn page is for work as a postdoctoral scholar at UCSD, which ended in January 2015 and involved conducting “realtime brain-machine interface experiments using electroencephalography.”

Doron is being held at San Diego Central Jail in lieu of $1.5 million bail and is due back in court July 16 for a Superior Court arraignment.

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