Sened Beyene Michael, 22, of Emerald Hills, was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez to pay $10,037, which includes thefts from two other banks.
Benitez allowed Michael to remain free on $30,000 bond until he self-surrenders on Nov. 3. He currently works at a car wash and his attorney said he will able to return to that job after his prison term ends.
His attorney, Carolyn Oliver, told the judge that Michael was intoxicated when he committed the bank robberies. He used to be a bank teller at a Pacific Beach bank in 2015.
Michael pleaded guilty to holding up the Banner Bank in Chula Vista on Feb. 16. Charges of robbing the Wells Fargo Bank, 1302 Garnet Ave., on Nov. 28, and the U.S. Bank, 5100 Federal Blvd., on Jan. 3, were dropped after he admitted to one bank robbery.
The demand note said “I have a gun just give me the money, 100s, 50s and 20s,” according to court records.
Oliver read Michael’s letter to the judge after saying he “was scared to read it” out loud and it talked about pressures from his estranged parents to constantly give them money for family expenses.
“I’m improving since I’ve been in therapy,” wrote Michael.
The judge said he noticed the word “scared” was mentioned in Michael’s letter several times.
“I bet when you use the word scared, it doesn’t even come close to what the bank tellers (felt),” said Benitez.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Brehm asked for a 33-month sentence while the federal probation department sought the three years that he received. Oliver asked for two years.
Michael was seen casing the Banner Bank at 1350 Rosecrans St. at 4:44 p.m. on Feb. 15. He ultimately walked out without approaching a teller, but his conduct was such that employees grew concerned. Michael returned to the same bank the next day, but didn’t approach a teller.
No charges were filed involving the Rosecrans bank, but the bank camera footage was used in the investigation, court records say. That was the same day he robbed the Chula Vista bank.
The FBI put out surveillance photos of the robber through Crime Stoppers with a $1,000 reward. A tipster said the robber looked like one man who was currently in prison and turned out to be Michael’s brother. They look similar to each other, according to records.
Michael was arrested Dec. 14, 2016 for misdemeanor drunk driving in a blue 2015 Nissan Sentra, and info about that was used by authorities in arresting Michael for bank robbery on March 21.