Police: Man says drug dealers forced him to twice rob Tri-Valley bank

Note handed to teller reportedly read, 'My life is on the line'

A man charged with robbing the same San Ramon bank twice claims drug dealers made him commit the holdups.

Benjamin Matthew Kairalla, 35, of Loxahatchee, Fla., was arrested after a fingerprint match and surveillance footage linked him to the robberies, police said.

Kairalla told San Ramon police, who picked him up in Florida, that "two different drug dealers who kept most of the money, forced him to commit the robberies," federal court documents say.

He told detectives that "he received approximately $1,000 and a quantity of heroin," for a July 1 holdup at Bank of the West at 140 Sunset Drive, and "enough money for a ticket to Florida and a quantity of heroin" for a Dec. 6 robbery of the same bank.

San Ramon police detectives traveled to Florida on Jan. 8 to interview Kairalla, who was already in custody there on five drug-related warrants.

According to documents filed Jan. 28 in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Kairalla netted more than $10,000 in the robberies -- $5,073 in July and $5,345 in December.

In the first holdup, he told a teller, "I am sorry I have to do this, but my life is on the line, and "said something like 'the people' were watching him," according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Todd Dorman.

In the second, according to Dorman, Kairalla handed a note reading, "I have a weapon, put the money in the bag."

Kairalla also left both tellers shaken, Dorman's statement says.

The teller in the first robbery "was pale and shaking" and "overcome with fear." The teller in the December holdup "appeared shocked and flustered and his face was red following the robbery," Dorman said in his affidavit.

Kairalla was traced after police recovered a fingerprint after he touched a glass door on the way out of the first robbery, according to authorities.

After San Ramon police got Kairalla's confession, they arrested him on two counts of robbery and handed the case over to the FBI.

He remains held without bail and faces up to 20 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted.


Like this comment
Posted by Wes
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 5, 2014 at 6:57 am

Bet a bammy voter.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2014 at 7:08 am

Wes's comment is just sad and indicative of the level of hate and disdain for our president. The right just has no class.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:52 am

The right wing propagandists in this country have worked so hard to build up the fear, resentment, hatred and self-righteous envy of weak-minded people like Wes that they just can't help themselves. Wes is no more to blame for his behavior than this druggie bank robber. Fox "News" made him do it!

Like this comment
Posted by Debora
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 6, 2014 at 5:13 pm

The only wings that matter in this case is that of the Angels that I hope are watching over this young man who has the evil hold of Heroin!!!! That drug will turn your life and everyone around you into shambles. Left wing and right wings need to get your heads out of the mud and start helping those that are mentally sick and those that have the disease of addiction. Like soon! These drugs are killing perfectly intelligent, sensitive and loving family members to do those things that we would have never imagined our loved ones to do. We need to help these addicted ones so we can eliminate the drug dealers and lords. No demand, no business for them. We ALL have to work at this and stop being ignorant and thinking that you are better or that this would never happen to you or anyone you know because I guarantee it has or it will. As much as I hate to agree with a criminal but I believe he did do this for the drug dealers or they were going to kill him. Because that is how ruthless the drug dealers are and the drugs too. So if we just continue to keep putting these addicts in jail well they do get out, they will just go right back because that is how powerful that drug is. They need treatment and counseling. Help your neighbors!!!! Help your fellow man!

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