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Bay Area man serial bank robber sentenced to federal prison for robbing banks 8 months after release in bank robbery case

OAKLAND — A Bay Area man was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for robbing four banks on the same day, just a few months after he was released from custody in a prior bank robbery case.

As the defense sees it, the “genuinely sad and somewhat pathetic nature” of defendant Phillip Leblanc’s current situation came to a head on Aug. 30, 2022, when he robbed or attempted to rob banks in Dublin, Berkeley, and two in Walnut Creek, all within the span of a few hours. Leblanc was quickly identified, arrested, and indicted in federal court. His attorney now argues his unaddressed mental illness is the root cause behind the “haphazard and seemingly nonsensical series of robberies.”

“Prior to this second federal case, Mr. LeBlanc was willing to recognize that he had mental health challenges, but believed he could handle them on his own,” Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Falk said in a sentencing memo. “As a first-hand witness to his own actions, Mr. LeBlanc now fully realizes he cannot do so.”

Leblanc was sentenced to four years in federal prison in 2018, for robbing two banks in San Francisco and one in Oakland. He was released in January 2022.

On Aug. 30, 2022, he allegedly drove around the East Bay handing demand notes to tellers or simply informing them he intended to rob the place. Unlike his first robbery spree — which netted him more than $11,000 that he was ultimately ordered to pay back — these crimes were not very fruitful. In one instance the teller handed him a mere $48 from the register. By the day’s end he was just $778 richer, with a lot of legal problems on the horizon.

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Leblanc, 40, pleaded guilty to four counts of bank robbery on Nov. 30, court records show. He has been in custody since his September 2022 indictment, so he gets credit for that time spent behind bars. After prison, he will have to spent three years on supervised release.

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