Walnut Creek police arrested a bank robbery suspect Aug. 30, 2022. Credit: WCPD

A man who was convicted in 2018 of three Bay Area bank robberies is now back behind bars after recent robberies, and an attempted robbery, at banks in Berkeley and Walnut Creek, according to authorities and court papers.

The case against 40-year-old Phillip LeBlanc is now in federal hands, authorizes told Berkeleyside. As of this week, information about the investigation remained limited.

During the 2018 case, LeBlanc’s attorney argued for leniency and said the bank robberies were the result of mental and financial struggles, according to federal court papers reviewed by Berkeleyside. LeBlanc stole nearly $11,000 from those banks and ultimately pleaded guilty to all three bank robbery charges against him. At the time, he had what prosecutors described as a “minimal” criminal history.

LeBlanc was arrested most recently on Aug. 30 by police in Walnut Creek after he tried to rob one bank and succeeded in robbing another, authorities said. Earlier that day, according to Berkeley police, LeBlanc had robbed Mechanics Bank on Shattuck Avenue and made off with cash.

It was Berkeley’s third bank robbery of the year, police said.

LeBlanc did not use a weapon during any of the robberies, according to authorities. BPD said the first of the series was a strong-arm robbery, but declined to share other details. In Walnut Creek, according to police, the robber made verbal demands at one bank and used a note at the other.

Walnut Creek PD announced the bank robbery arrest on Facebook shortly after it happened, and shared several photographs, but did not identify the suspect by name.

Police did not share details with Berkeleyside about how much cash the robber took from either of the banks, in line with standard procedure. But Walnut Creek police shared a photograph of money seized during the arrest.

Walnut Creek police confiscated cash during the arrest of a bank robbery suspect Aug. 30, 2022. Credit: WCPD

Lt. Holley Connors, spokesperson for Walnut Creek PD, said the agency had first gotten a 911 call just before 1:45 p.m. Aug. 30 about an attempted robbery at Union Bank at 1555 Mount Diablo Blvd.

“The attempted robbery was verbal only and no weapons were seen,” she said in a prepared statement. Officers and detectives responded to the area.

As they were arriving, dispatch received a new report about a bank robbery via note at Mechanics Bank, 1350 N. Main St., several blocks away, Connors said.

Police said they detained the robbery suspect after finding him walking on Cypress and N. Main streets near a third Walnut Creek bank just blocks from the Mechanics Bank. They detained him without incident, according to WCPD.

LeBlanc initially was held at Martinez Detention Facility on $200,000 bail, according to booking records from the time of his arrest.

As of this week, he was being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, according to booking records. The only charge listed currently is a parole violation.

LeBlanc is ineligible for release on bail at this time due to the parole violation, according to booking records. His next court date was not listed as of publication time.

In 2019, after bank robberies in Oakland and San Francisco, LeBlanc had been sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $11,000 in restitution, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office at the time.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury and later pleaded guilty.

“In pleading guilty, LeBlanc admitted that on May 26, 2018, he robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco of more than $7,500. Similarly, on June 22, 2018, LeBlanc stole $1,949 from a Cathay Bank in San Francisco, and on June 23, 2018, he stole $1,517 from a Citibank in Oakland,” authorities wrote.

In addition to his prison term, a federal judge ordered LeBlanc to serve three years of supervised release, the U.S. attorney’s office wrote in 2019.

After his recent arrest, Walnut Creek police declined to release LeBlanc’s booking photograph because they said they were still trying to determine whether other law enforcement agencies might be involved in the investigation.

BPD initially submitted its case to the Alameda County district attorney’s office for review, but the U.S. attorney’s office later took it on.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...