RIVERSIDE – A retired Pomona police sergeant pleaded guilty this week to two counts of bank robbery, and will likely face three years in prison when sentenced in November, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
Frank Holder, 62, pleaded guilty Monday to committing two bank robberies in October – one in Glendora and one in Rancho Cucamonga. He also told authorities following his October arrest that he robbed two banks in Escondido.
Holder, of Phelan, retired in 2004 after working for 30 years for the Pomona Police Department.
Prior to his arrest, authorities dubbed Holder the “Grandpa Bandit” because of his relatively advanced age.
Holder, who has been free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 30 in Riverside federal court.
The maximum sentence a judge can impose for Holder’s offenses is 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, according to the plea agreement.
But because of Holder’s apparent lack of criminal history prior to his arrest, federal sentencing guidelines will likely call for a prison sentence of 37 to 46 months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Priya Sopori said.
As part of the plea agreement reached Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend that Holder receive the low-term sentence of 37 months, Sopori said.
A federal judge will ultimately choose Holder’s sentence, she said. Holder will also be ordered to pay about $4,000 in restitution, according to the plea agreement.
On Oct. 29 in Rancho Cucamonga, Holder walked into the Bank of America branch at 11570 Fourth St. with a canvas bag and ordered a teller to “put everything you have, top and bottom drawer into the bag,” according to a federal complaint.
The teller put about $2,500 and a dye pack into the bag. Before Holder could reach his pickup in the parking lot, a bank employee saw the dye pack explode, staining Holder’s clothes and arms with red ink.
Shortly after the robbery, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies located and arrested Holder near the intersection of Whittram Avenue and Ilex Street in Rancho Cucamonga.
After his arrest, Holder admitted during an interview with an FBI agent that he robbed the bank in Rancho Cucamonga. He also admitted robbing a bank in Glendora and two banks in Escondido, according to the complaint.
Holder made off with about $1,400 from Union Bank of California at 601 W. Route 66 in Glendora, according to the plea agreement.
Holder was armed with a handgun during the robberies, but he was not charged with armed robbery because he did not show the weapon to bank tellers or tell them he was armed, Sopori said.
After Holder’s arrest, Joe Romero, then chief of the Pomona Police Department, said the arrest came as a shock to people who knew Holder.
“It’s totally out of his character,” Romero said.
Holder retired in 2004 under honorable circumstances, and worked a variety of assignments during his 30-year career with the department, Romero said.
Prior to his transfer in 1974 to the Pomona Police Department, Holder worked for the Montclair Police Department.
Holder has at least two sons who work in law enforcement, Sopori said.
Staff Writer Jannise Johnson contributed to this report.