Alleged “Tri-Cities Bandit” arrested near Malibu


A man linked to ten bank robberies in several nearby cities was arrested Saturday afternoon on the 101 Freeway at the Topanga Canyon exit, according to a press release by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Ernest Viana, 39, was arrested by Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station deputies when they spotted a white Volkswagen Jetta linked with a robbery at First California Bank in Westlake Village at 11:40 a.m. Saturday. Oleg Gorokhovsky, 42, a second man believed by authorities to have acted as his getaway driver, was also arrested, Lt. Josh Thai of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station told The Malibu Times. The suspect garnered the “Tri-Cities Bandit” moniker after being linked to bank heists in the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena.

The “Tri-Cities Bandit” was linked with two robberies Wednesday evening in the cities of Pasadena and La Verne, where witnesses spotted a late model, four-door Volkswagen in the vicinity of the robberies, according to a press release circulated Thursday by the FBI. The press release stated that the “Tri-Cities Bandit” has a habit of entering banks and wordlessly slipping notes to tellers “demanding money in large denominations,” and that “Victims have stated that the bandit keeps conversation to a minimum during robberies.” The bandit was described as an Hispanic male between 30-40 years old with a “thick build; short, dark hair; and a goatee” and between 5’5’’-5’8’’ in height. It was said he “dresses casually during the robberies, at times with buttoned-down shirts or jersey-style t-shirts” and occasionally wears sunglasses.

Starting June 13 at Citibank in Burbank, the “Tri-Cities Bandit” was linked with robberies in 10 banks in Pasadena, Glendale, Tarzana, Brentwood, Chino Hills, Los Angeles and La Verne.