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Cerritos Bank Robber AKA 'Puffy Coat Bandit' Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison

Steven Dwayne Paulson, 46, was linked to several Southland bank robberies, including the Jan. 3 holdup at Chase Bank in Cerritos.

A Pomona man dubbed the "Puffy Coat Bandit" was sentenced Monday to nine years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution of about $40,000 for holding up banks in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- including robbing Chase Bank in Cerritos on Jan. 3, 2012.

Steven Dwayne Paulson, 46, pleaded guilty in April to five federal counts of bank robbery. He was linked to robberies that took place between Dec. 20, 2011, and Jan. 9, 2012 at banks in Chino, Corona, Lake Elsinore, Glendora, Cerritos and Rancho Cucamonga.

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According to sentencing papers prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Paulson has a 33-year criminal history that includes 14 convictions -- for mostly property and drug crimes -- along with seven juvenile arrests and more than a dozen additional law enforcement contacts as an adult.

He was pulled over and arrested last Jan. 10 in Upland, eight months after his most recent prison term -- a nine-year sentence for forgery, court papers show. Paulson's "history of drug and alcohol abuse is also as lengthy and as troublesome as his criminal history," prosecutors wrote in the sentencing document, adding that while the defendant's addiction does not excuse the crimes, "it can help to explain it."

The puffy ski jacket the bandit wore in a robbery in Chino helped FBI agents come up with his moniker. In other holdups, he wore a plaid jacket and a baseball cap or a knit beanie.

Most of the time, Paulson used a demand note and, in some crimes, he simulated having a weapon under his coat, prosecutors said.

When robbing Chase Bank at 11900 South Street in Cerritos on the afternoon of Jan. 3, Paulson operated under the same tactics, carrying a similar binder, wearing a similar knit cap, issuing a demand note and wearing the same expression on his face, said Laura Eimiller of the Los Angeles division of the FBI.

There were however, two changes to the robber's appearance in that holdup, he was reportedly clean shaven and switched out his "puffy coat" for a different type, authorities said.

- City News Service contributed to this report.

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