Lottery Winner Pleads Guilty to Robbing Multiple Banks

James Hayes won $19M jackpot in 1998
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2018 12:44 PM CDT
James Hayes pleaded guilty Thursday to robbing multiple banks in California two decades after winning a $19 million lottery jackpot.   (Los Angeles Sheriff's Department)

(Newser) – James Hayes was working the graveyard shift as a security guard supervisor in 1998 when he hit California's SuperLotto jackpot, CBS Los Angeles reports. On Thursday—20 years after becoming a multimillionaire overnight—the 55-year-old Hayes pleaded guilty to bank robbery. Hayes was arrested in October while living in an abandoned garage. According to My News LA, he was suspected in a string of 10 bank robberies between April and September. The FBI had dubbed the suspect in those robberies the PT Cruiser Bandit and the Seasoned Bandit.

Hayes pleaded guilty Thursday to robbing four of the banks and stealing a total of around $40,000. He faces up to 80 years in prison. He also admitted to buying a gold PT Cruiser with stolen money immediately after one of the bank robberies, the Signal reports. Hayes has agreed to forfeit the PT Cruiser. His sentencing is scheduled for June. Hayes won $19 million in the lottery but reportedly lost half of it to his ex-wife. A $1,000-a-week heroin habit may have taken care of most of the $6 million lump sum he ended up with.

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