Oakland Man gets 8+ Years Prison For 19 Bank Robberies including in South Lake Tahoe

by Placerville Newswire / Jan 21, 2020 / comments

[Pleasant Hill Police Department]

Photo provided by Pleasant Hill Police Department on March 21, 2018.

SAN FRANCISCO – Duane Kurt Makela was sentenced to 97 months in prison in connection with ten armed bank robberies, seven unarmed bank robberies, and two attempted bank robberies across Northern California, announced Northern District of California Acting U.S. Attorney Adam A. Reeves, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, Senior U.S. District Judge.

Makela, 50, of Oakland, pleaded guilty to the charges on October 3, 2019.  Makela admitted in open court that between March 2018 and February 2019, he committed or attempted to commit 19 robberies of banks and credit unions largely located in the San Francisco Bay Area but also in towns in or near the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  As part of his plea, Makela agreed that he entered the banks and credit unions and demanded that employees hand over money.  Makela further acknowledged that during each armed robbery, he brandished what appeared to be a handgun and directed employees of the banks and credit unions to hand over money.  In total, Makela stole $69,002.

Makela robbed or attempted to rob the following banks and credit unions on the following dates:





1.  Armed Bank Robbery March 21, 2018 Pacific Service Credit Union Pleasant Hill, CA
2.  Bank Robbery March 24, 2018 Wells Fargo Bank South Lake Tahoe, CA
3.  Bank Robbery March 30, 2018 U.S. Bank Oakland, CA
4.  Armed Bank Robbery April 11, 2018 Pacific Service Credit Union San Ramon, CA
5.  Armed Bank Robbery April 13, 2018 Comerica Bank Palo Alto, CA
6.  Bank Robbery April 17, 2018 Bank of the West Orinda, CA
7. Attempted Bank Robbery May 11, 2018 U.S Bank San Ramon, CA
8. Armed Bank Robbery May 12, 2018 Chase Bank Oakland, CA
9.  Bank Robbery May 24, 2018 Sierra Central Credit Union South Lake Tahoe, CA
10. Bank Robbery June 6, 2018 U.S. Bank Roseville, CA
11. Armed Bank Robbery June 12, 2018 U.S. Bank Pollock Pines, CA
12. Armed Bank Robbery August 25, 2018 Wells Fargo Bank Mill Valley, CA
13. Attempted Bank Robbery October 18, 2018 First Republic Bank Burlingame, CA
14. Armed Bank Robbery October 19, 2018 Meriwest Credit Union Mountain View, CA
15. Armed Bank Robbery October 22, 2018 Chase Bank South San Francisco, CA
16. Bank Robbery November 3, 2018 Wells Fargo Bank Orinda, CA
17. Armed Bank Robbery November 5, 2018 U.S. Bank Alameda, CA
18. Armed Bank Robbery December 23, 2018 U.S. Bank Castro Valley, CA
19. Bank Robbery February 4, 2019 Wells Fargo Bank Palo Alto, CA


On May 7, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Makela, charging him with four counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and one count of unarmed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a).  On September 25, 2019, Makela waived his right to indictment and to venue for those charges arising out of the Eastern District of California, and he was arraigned on a superseding information alleging the above-listed crimes.  On October 3, 2019, Makela pleaded guilty to all 19 counts in the superseding information.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer ordered Makela to serve a three-year period of supervised release and ordered full restitution to the victim banks and credit unions.

Northern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Walsh is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon and Margoth Turcios.  Eastern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez assisted.

The prosecution is the result of investigations by the FBI with assistance from the police departments of Pleasant Hill, Orinda, Daly City, South Lake Tahoe, Oakland, San Ramon, Palo Alto, Roseville, Burlingame, Mountain View, South San Francisco, and Alameda, as well as the Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Marin County, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Offices.