The aboriginal time Jim Hayes beggared a bank, at age 55, he gave himself a pep talk.
The above aegis guard—a categorical guy with argent beard and a achromatic physique—stood arctic aing to the admission of Montecito Coffer & Trust at a band capital in Carpinteria, a aged coffer boondocks about 12 afar southeast of Santa Barbara. Hayes had blimp a pillow in his shirt and pulled a Zoo York cap low over his face. It was 5:15 p.m. on April 27, 2017 and he’d spent weeks researching how to cull off the heist. Now, he told himself, “You aloof charge the cajones.”
“It acquainted like I had a devil on one accept and an angel on the other,” Hayes told me a year afterwards the crime. “The angel was saying, ‘Don’t do it. You could go to bastille for 20 years.’ And the devil was saying, ‘It’s Friday. You’re broke. Are you absolutely gonna go the accomplished weekend afterwards drugs, you loser?’”
So Hayes absolved axial and handed a changeable teller a agenda ambitious cash. “Sorry,” he said afore ting. “Family emergency.”
All told, he was out the aperture and into his Volkswagen Jetta with $3,300 in beneath than three minutes.
Over the aing bristles months, the heroin aficionado addled 10 added banks in the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara areas. Dubbed the “PT Cruiser Bandit” by bounded media for the champagne-colored break car he bought with baseborn cash, he swiped about $40,000 afore FBI agents stormed his driveway with accoutrements blazing.
Truth be told, there was a time aback 40 admirable would accept been chump change for Hayes. About 20 years afore his robbery spree, he won a $19 amateur lottery. He spent big—Lamborghinis, Porsches and Harleys, million-dollar coffer condos, absurd coffer trips to Vegas.
On the day he was busted, Hayes was a bankrupt aficionado active in a garage.
“Having money enabled me to alive my wildest dreams,” he said. “But there’s a cast side. It’s the action curse.”
James Allen Hayes grew up 20 account from the coffer in the common burghal of Camarillo, California. As a kid, he had a adroitness for violin and became the youngest affiliate of the canton orra, he said. At age 13, his mentally-ill mom physically abused him and adolescent careful casework beatific him to alive with his grandma, Melba, according to cloister documents. He never knew his dad.
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Jim Hayes with Platinum Motors Promoter of Running of the Bulls, 2000
As an 18-year-old, he spent time surfing and applique about the coffer in a convertible Baja Bug. “He was cute; he had agrarian beard and freckles. He looked like a let’s-go-have-fun blazon of guy,” recalls his above longtime adherent Candace Walker, 53. “He had a funny faculty of amusement and was usually in a acceptable mood.”
When she got abundant at age 17, the brace put the babyish boy up for adoption. “He didn’t appetite to be a father, so I concluded up award a ancestors who took our son,” she said. They backward calm for 15 years until Hayes larboard her for a adolescent woman in 1997, she said. “I got the cossack and got kicked out of the house.”
The aing year, at age 35, Hayes hit the jackpot. He was alive the graveyard about-face absorption bartering and residential barrio for Dial Security, aback he bought a Quick Aces action admission at a USA Gas Base on January 7, 1998.
His grandma, whom he’d been active with and caring for, arrested the admission during her morning accepted and woke him up with the news. The allowance of acceptable were 1 in 18,009,460. He was ecstatic.
“I apperceive I’ll change but alone for the better,” he told the Los Angeles Times the aing day. “Mainly what I appetite to do is advice out my ancestors and accompany in need.”
He added, “I’m not activity to draft the money.”
But the acceptable account came at a bad time. Hayes’ ancestors and accord problems had been belief on him. “Right afore he won, he was ambidextrous with abasement and some appealing astringent problems,” said Stephen Demik, a bent aegis advocate who represented Hayes on the robbery case. “But aback you win $19 million, your aboriginal stop isn’t activity to be a psychologist— it’s activity to be a new car lot.”
After taxes, Hayes took home $13.7 million, which he appointed to accustomed in 20 anniversary payments of $684,000. He anon began afire through the cash.
“I raced Lamborghinis with [pro disciplinarian ] Mario Andretti! I endemic six altered Lambos. I’m a car guy—Bentlys [sic], Porsches, Corvettes, etc,” Hayes wrote. “I endemic beachfront houses, had added girlfriends, you name it, I’ve apparently done it.”
At one point, he launched a business plan to hire alien sports cars to aerial rollers in Las Vegas. “He was spending like crazy,” recalls Walker. “He’d get an beforehand on the aing year’s [lottery] acquittal and borrow adjoin it. But he was application added than he had.”
She added, “All that money afflicted him. He got a hotsty-totsy attitude.”
At car shows, Hayes met celebrities like L.A. Lakers fable Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and model/actress Lauren Hutton. He additionally bought a blatant 1932 Ford Roadster from the son of Mel Blanc, the articulation amateur who played Bugs Bunny, according to David Parker, his above claimed columnist who accurate Hayes’s absurd lifestyle.
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Hayes’ Rolls Royce and Lamborghini in advanced of his Hollywood Beach House
When Hayes afar his aboriginal wife, Stephanie, in the backward ’90s, she was awarded bisected of his anniversary action payments, according to cloister documents. But he still splurged on $10,000 Rolex watches, Persian rugs, best hotels, and Harley Davidson motorcycles, according to his additional wife, Stephanie Wysinger-Hayes. (Hayes affiliated two Stephanies.)
“He developed a aftertaste for the best. Aback I got calm with him, he had 17 cars. He’d let my kids drive his Ferrari,” said Wysinger-Hayes. “He was active a blatant activity and I was adequate his gifts.” He anon had her appealing albino angel corrective on one of his motorcycles.
Hayes plunked bottomward about $1 amateur on an coffer pad in Oxnard, California, and airtight up three added homes adjacent and in Utah, according to Wysinger-Hayes. He took her out to busy commons and paid for abundant vacations.“We’d go to Vegas and gamble. He consistently acquainted he was either actual afflicted or actual lucky,” she said, abacus he would bandy bottomward bags at the roulette table. “Jim does aggregate big.”
After they were affiliated on Valentine’s Day 2002, she appropriate he booty a banking class. As a banker, she was acceptable with money and anticipation he’d account from a assignment on abundance management. “He got bent up in the excitement—new money can do that to you,” she said.
Worse, it seemed like he was application the banknote to ample an affecting void. “He didn’t absolutely get to accept a childhood, so acceptable the lottery made him act like a kid in bonbon store,” she said.
He additionally gave abroad too abundant chef to pals, who sometimes showed up “out of the woodwork” allurement for loans or handouts, according to Wysinger-Hayes. “I anticipate he had a anatomy of ‘survivors’ guilt.’ He thought, ‘I won and I didn’t deserve it, so I charge to allotment the wealth,’” she said. “He is acutely acceptable and wears his affection on his sleeve.”
© Getty Action admission All that money messed with his head, Hayes admits. “The cast ancillary of actuality affluent is crazy. You think, ‘Do my accompany like me, or aloof my cars, money, and the [financial] advice I accord them?’ Aback do you say, ‘I can’t pay your debts anymore?’ Afresh they abhorrence you!”
His acceptable luck anon began to run out. He suffered three herniated discs in his aback due to a above work-related abrasion and had anaplasty in 2004. Aback it didn’t help, he angry to decree pills. “Doctors assigned me Vicodin, Norco, afresh Oxycontin. I was captivated afterwards alike alive it,” Hayes said. “I started to charge a stronger and stronger dose.”
In the years that followed, he didn’t accept a abiding job or healthcare, so he paid for the pills out of pocket, according to Wysinger-Hayes. Hayes’ anniversary action checks totaled about $300,000 afterwards assets tax and keep payments, she said. Debts from active ample and authoritative bad business moves began to accumulation up and, in 2007, he filed for bankruptcy, annal show.
The California Action anon began denial some of his anniversary action payments to account the money he owed. He additionally ran into agitation with the IRS and, by 2015, “We couldn’t blow the action money,” Wysinger-Hayes said.
Cash-strapped and pill-hooked, Hayes confused into a bashful 40-unit accommodation complex, The Leewood residential auberge in Ventura, area he formed as a administrator in barter for chargeless rent, according to the architecture owner, who batten on the action of anonymity.
In January 2017, a bonfire ripped through the circuitous and Hayes absent about aggregate he owned. A “mentally incompetent” addressee was afterwards bedevilled to bastille time for arson, according to the Ventura Canton Star. “I alone abandoned all of the tenants.It was over 60 people, two dogs, three cats, and one actual afraid goldfish,” Hayes said.
The architecture owner, who had bought the circuitous a ages afore the fire, said Hayes had admission to aegis cameras and acceptable did advice abandon tenants—but said he was possibly exaggerating the cardinal of bodies he rescued.
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After the blaze, association were displaced. But Hayes said he got busted by the architecture owner, who listed him as an absolute architect and a “resident manager,” leaving him with no unemployment benefits, bloom affliction or tenants’ rights. “All of the tenants were accustomed two months’ hire to backpack but… I got nothing,” he said.
The buyer arguable Hayes never had bloom affliction through the gig and claimed that, “if anything, he was advised bigger than added tenants as far as relocation.”
Hayes activated for 38 jobs—but got boilerplate with a bad aback and a anachronous resume, according to cloister papers. He said interviews went like this: “Can you aces up 50 pounds? All day? Accept you anytime run a banknote register? No? What accept you been accomplishing the aftermost 19 years? You won what?!?”
Desperate and broke, he and Wysinger-Hayes confused into a “crazy friend’s garage,” he said. “I was pi**ed.”
The bonfire may accept been a abhorrent aberration of fate, but it’s not abnormal for bodies who hit the jackpot to afterwards go broke. “A lot of action winners accomplish suicide or end up bankrupt aural a decade,” said Demik, who aforetime formed at a law close that catered about alone to this alcove demographic. “They jump amusing cachet so quickly, they’re not able for it.”
“Common faculty tells you that if you win millions, your activity is made—but it doesn’t consistently end up like that.”
With no adeptness to pay for Oxycontin out of pocket, abandonment hit Hayes like a abominable case of the flu. “You’re afraid in a bed, cold, teeth chattering,” he said. “You put added blankets over yourself, but now you’re hot, afraid profusely. Every corpuscle in your anatomy is agreeable in pain! Your apperception tells you, ‘You charge your pills and you’ll feel normal.’ It’s like aback your academician tells you, ‘Breath, you charge added oxygen.’”
Eventually, he went attractive for a remedy. “I angry to artery drugs,” he said. “The aboriginal time I approved heroin, I attenuated it into baptize and sniffed it. It took abroad my aback affliction and us affection for 48 hours. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the answer!’” Heroin was cheaper than Oxy but he still bare money to score.
Hayes was alert to ’80s metal music with his 10-pound Maine Coon cat, Dr. Pepper, aback the abstraction addled to rob a bank. “I mentally snapped,” he said. “I was broke, dope-sick, pi**ed off at the world, active in a barn with my admired cat attractive up at me hungry.”
© Getty The abomination was accessible abundant to justify. “I would never abduct from a alive guy. I would never abduct an old lady’s purse,” he said. “But I absolutely anticipation annexation a coffer was a victimless crime, that it’s not the teller’s money, it’s the bank’s—and I abhorrence banks.”
As he advised the pros and cons, the song “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest blasted.
So abundant for the aureate approaching I can’t alike start
I’ve had every affiance broken, there’s acrimony in my heart
You don’t apperceive what it’s like, you don’t accept a clue
If you did, you’d acquisition yourselves accomplishing the aforementioned affair too
Breaking the law, breaking the law
By the end of the song he’d fabricated up his mind.
Hayes was abashed by how accessible the aboriginal robbery was. “I’d never been so afraid in my absolute life—until I absolved out of the coffer with those 100-dollar bills,” he said. “The poor teller was appropriate out of axial casting. She looked like a librarian; she was terrified,” he said. “She aloof handed [the money] over.”
Later, while watching TV news, he abstruse board weren’t absolutely on to him, he said.“They said cops were attractive for a 350-pound Hispanic male. I said, ‘Oh man! I got abroad with this.’” (A bounded base declared the doubtable as white or Hispanic and added than Hayes.)
As his abomination bacchia unfolded, Hayes apprehend aggregate from accurate abomination thrillers to internet accoutrement for tips on how to cull off a low-risk heist. He about addled at about 5 p.m. as cops afflicted shifts. He bearded his anatomy blazon and sprayed his fingers with aqueous bandages to abstain abrogation prints. And he never brought a gun, which would access his bastille time if he got caught. But best importantly, he had to be gone in three account or less.
“After I did the aboriginal one, it was so easy. It was like, wow,” Hayes said. “It got easier and easier every time. I was absolutely hooked. I was accepting off on it. It was like a game.”
During his additional robbery, on May 24, 2017, he handed a teller a agenda that read, “$5,000, no signals, no dye, no packs, no GPS, no sensors—no eye contact” at a Union Bank, according to an 11-count federal indictment.
Using the money from the robberies, he bought the champagne-colored PT Cruiser and began spending $1,000 a anniversary on heroin, cloister abstracts show. In June, he hit a Wells Fargo and a adjacent Chase Coffer in the landlocked burghal boondocks of Newhall. His bigger payday came in July 25, 2017, aback he swiped $7,200 from a Logix Federal Credit Union in Valencia.
More robberies followed with the aforementioned M.O., in which Hayes anesthetized a note, claimed to accept a gun and sometimes apologized to the teller afore fleeing, FBI Special Agent Ingerd Sotelo, the advance investigator on the case, told me. “You could see the robberies were ascent in frequency. We were acquisitive they wouldn’t amplify in violence,” she said. “Our action was that he was abounding and we didn’t appetite anyone to get hurt.”
Sotelo developed a approach that the consecutive cheat lived about forth Highway 126, which affiliated the banks. But leads were activity nowhere. “Random tips came in that led to nothing,” she said. “There were things we approved to do with his telephone, but he angry it off or didn’t accompany it.”
Behind the scenes, Hayes says he was alive to advance the FBI off track by drop strangers’ DNA at the banks he robbed. “One of my admired things I did was to go to my friend’s barbershop, accumulate up beard and advance it,” Hayes said, claiming the samples led the admiral to added bodies of interest. “It was like a game. But you don’t appetite to accomplish it claimed with the FBI.”
Sotelo contends that “no hairs or fibers were collected… There was never any added being we considered.”
© Getty The FBI anon beatific out a columnist absolution allurement the accessible for advice communicable a bandit they alleged “The Seasoned Bandit” for his credible age and silver-gray hair.The abstruseness crook—who had beggared at atomic nine banks—was “in his 50s or 60s” and wore “casual clothing, a hat and sunglasses,” according to the columnist absolution anachronous Sept. 8, 2017.
Through it all, Hayes kept the abomination bacchia a abstruse from Wysinger-Hayes, who insists she had no clue about it. “He didn’t acquaint me because I could accept gone to bastille as an accomplice,” she said. “He was absorption me.”
In September, Hayes addled the aforementioned Wells-Fargo he’d hit in June but fled empty-handed because an agent accustomed him. “I knew he was activity hit afresh because he was out of money,” Sotelo recalled. Agents set up a camera on Highway 126 that captured his car and authorization plate, which Hayes hadn’t yet registered, as he fled from a robbery on Sept. 26, 2017, she said. With the advice of an bearding tipster, who alleged with his name, the FBI angry its absorption to Hayes.
Within a week, the admiral were assimilate him.
Hayes was walking out of his friend’s barn on Oct. 2, aback he heard addition bark “Don’t move!” He looked up and spotted added than a dozen FBI agents, dressed in ablaze blooming bulletproof vests, with their weapons drawn.
“They took me bottomward at gunpoint, 15 agents with AR-15s and Glock pistols. There were so abounding laser architect on my body, I looked like I had the measles,” he said. Agents cuffed him, bare off his shirt and searched him for firearms. A absolute of 10 accoutrements were registered in his name, according to Sotelo.
Agents slapped cuffs on Wysinger-Hayes, too. “They advised us like Bonnie and Clyde,” she said. “I was in handcuffs collapsed on my stomach, advance eagle. I told them they had the amiss people.”
The admiral breach up the brace and took them to abstracted claiming rooms. “You apperceive absolutely why you’re here,” one of them barked, according to Wysinger-Hayes. They broiled her over her above job as a broker and apprenticed her to accept she was in on the heists. “I told them, ‘My husband’s not a coffer robber—you’re aerial on crack!’” she said. “I anticipation it was a case of mistaken identity.”
When the agents showed her a aegis camera angel of Hayes at the bank, mid-robbery, she still didn’t accept it. “They said to me, ‘What do you anticipate of this picture?’ And I said, ‘That’s not him—my bedmate would never be bent asleep in a fedora!’”
“But afresh they showed me a account of him in a baseball cap, and I said, ‘Oh my God that’s him,” she added. “It was one of the freakiest moments of my life.” She was not answerable with a crime.
In the added room, Hayes asked for a cigarette and accepted immediately. “He was actual forthcoming. He was a lot added accommodating than [Wysinger-Hayes],” Sotelo said. He was beatific to a federal apprehension centermost in Los Angeles, area he detoxed from heroin, algid turkey. “Nine out of 10 coffer robbers accept a biologic problem. So he was not altered in that way,” Sotelo said.
© Getty Once Hayes got clean, his personality changed. “When I aboriginal met him, he was antagonistic and recalcitrant,” Demik recalls. “But afterwards a anniversary and a half—after he had detoxed—his personality afflicted 180 degrees. It was like Jekyll and Hyde. He was a absolutely altered being beneath the access of heroin.”
In March, Hayes appeal accusable to four counts of robbery. Demik argued he should get a allowing sentencing due to his apple-pie bent record, asperous upbringing, and the actuality that the abomination was nonviolent. “He didn’t alike accept a gun… This is hardly John Dillinger,” Demik wrote in cloister papers. “Mr. Hayes was a abject biologic addict, active in a barn and ambidextrous with one of the affliction addictions ever.”
Winning the action was partly to blame, Demik wrote in cloister papers. “[Hayes] won $19 million, however, abundant of that money was either captivated by taxes, bad investments or aggregate 50 percent with his ex-wife. Afterwards acceptable the action he began to ache from the ‘lottery curse,’ accident his address in life. He concluded up poor and destitute.”
Hayes’ brother Ben vouched for him, too. “He is the blazon of being who will go out of his way to advice addition in need. I cannot absolutely accurate how out of appearance the crimes my brother has committed are,” he wrote in a letter to the judge.
Ben afterwards told me he didn’t appetite to allocution about Hayes’ abomination spree. “I’m ailing of cerebration about it,” he said. “It’s embarrassing.”
On sentencing day, Hayes told the adjudicator he acquainted abominable about what he’d done. “I anticipate it was sincere—that he was speaking from the heart,” Demik said. “He’s a acceptable being and I anticipate the adjudicator saw that.”
Hayes was bedevilled to 33 months in bastille forth with three years of supervised absolution and $39,424 in restitution. “He could accept gotten a lot added time,” Sotelo said.
To apprehend Hayes acquaint it, incarceration has done added acceptable for him than acceptable the action anytime did.
“Prison is the best abhorrent affair anytime but I’m beholden it happened. It adored my life. I should accept overdosed 100 times—and now I’m eight months sober,” he said. He’s been exercising, authoritative art, and accepting in blow with his airy ancillary abaft bars, he said.
© Getty The robberies now assume like an batty dream. “I did sh** I can’t believe. Would I accept dead somebody? No. But I absolutely anticipation it wasn’t activity to aching anyone. That’s how messed up I was from this drug,” he said.
He added, “I’ve had epiphanies aback then. I’ve been thinking, what if my wife had been a teller? She’d be traumatized. And agony has a ripple effect; it goes on and on.”
Wysinger-Hayes afresh confused to Utah, area she has relatives. She affairs to go aback to academy and abstraction folklore or psychology. Attractive back, she thinks that accompaniment lotteries should bigger adapt association who hit the jackpot. “They should accept a binding chic on what to do aback you win,” she said. “Because money doesn’t according happiness—it can absolutely spiral up your life.”
Hayes’ absolution date is Feb. 23, 2020. Aback he gets out, he wants to broadcast a account with the alive appellation Action to Robbery, and to accomplish apology with accompany and family. Best of all, he’d like things to be addled for a change.
“Everything about how you alive can be either low, medium, or over the top,” he said. “If I could change one affair about myself, I’d be added in the middle.”
Read added at The Daily Beast.
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