Oakland Man Sentenced to More than 8 Years In Prison For 19 Bank Robberies in Northern California

Press Release

Photo provided by Pleasant Hill Police Department on March 21, 2018.

SAN FRANCISCO – Duane Kurt Makela was sentenced to 97 months in prison in connection with ten armed bank robberies, seven unarmed bank robberies, and two attempted bank robberies across Northern California, announced Northern District of California Acting U.S. Attorney Adam A. Reeves, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, Senior U.S. District Judge.

Makela, 50, of Oakland, pleaded guilty to the charges on October 3, 2019.  Makela admitted in open court that between March 2018 and February 2019, he committed or attempted to commit 19 robberies of banks and credit unions largely located in the San Francisco Bay Area but also in towns in or near the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  As part of his plea, Makela agreed that he entered the banks and credit unions and demanded that employees hand over money.  Makela further acknowledged that during each armed robbery, he brandished what appeared to be a handgun and directed employees of the banks and credit unions to hand over money.  In total, Makela stole $69,002.

Makela robbed or attempted to rob the following banks and credit unions on the following dates:





1.  Armed Bank RobberyMarch 21, 2018Pacific Service Credit UnionPleasant Hill, CA
2.  Bank RobberyMarch 24, 2018Wells Fargo BankSouth Lake Tahoe, CA
3.  Bank RobberyMarch 30, 2018U.S. BankOakland, CA
4.  Armed Bank RobberyApril 11, 2018Pacific Service Credit UnionSan Ramon, CA
5.  Armed Bank RobberyApril 13, 2018Comerica BankPalo Alto, CA
6.  Bank RobberyApril 17, 2018Bank of the WestOrinda, CA
7. Attempted Bank RobberyMay 11, 2018U.S BankSan Ramon, CA
8. Armed Bank RobberyMay 12, 2018Chase BankOakland, CA
9.  Bank RobberyMay 24, 2018Sierra Central Credit UnionSouth Lake Tahoe, CA
10. Bank RobberyJune 6, 2018U.S. BankRoseville, CA
11. Armed Bank RobberyJune 12, 2018U.S. BankPollock Pines, CA
12. Armed Bank RobberyAugust 25, 2018Wells Fargo BankMill Valley, CA
13. Attempted Bank RobberyOctober 18, 2018First Republic BankBurlingame, CA
14. Armed Bank RobberyOctober 19, 2018Meriwest Credit UnionMountain View, CA
15. Armed Bank RobberyOctober 22, 2018Chase BankSouth San Francisco, CA
16. Bank RobberyNovember 3, 2018Wells Fargo BankOrinda, CA
17. Armed Bank RobberyNovember 5, 2018U.S. BankAlameda, CA
18. Armed Bank RobberyDecember 23, 2018U.S. BankCastro Valley, CA
19. Bank RobberyFebruary 4, 2019Wells Fargo BankPalo Alto, CA


On May 7, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Makela, charging him with four counts of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and one count of unarmed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a).  On September 25, 2019, Makela waived his right to indictment and to venue for those charges arising out of the Eastern District of California, and he was arraigned on a superseding information alleging the above-listed crimes.  On October 3, 2019, Makela pleaded guilty to all 19 counts in the superseding information.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer ordered Makela to serve a three-year period of supervised release and ordered full restitution to the victim banks and credit unions.

Northern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Walsh is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon and Margoth Turcios.  Eastern District of California Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez assisted.

The prosecution is the result of investigations by the FBI with assistance from the police departments of Pleasant Hill, Orinda, Daly City, South Lake Tahoe, Oakland, San Ramon, Palo Alto, Roseville, Burlingame, Mountain View, South San Francisco, and Alameda, as well as the Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Marin County, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Offices.