SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The feds are seeking prosecution of a Santa Fe-area man who’s been convicted of armed robbery in the past and is now accused of holding up three northern New Mexico banks.
Lester Padilla, 46, is facing three bank robbery charges, accused of holding up three Wells Fargos branches across Espanola and Santa Fe. If convicted, Padilla may not get out of prison until he is in his late sixties.
Jail records show Padilla is no stranger to the Santa Fe County Jail, having been booked in the facility more than a dozen times over the last twenty years.
In 2011, Padilla was charged with robbing two elderly women near the Santa Fe Plaza. He was sentenced to four years in state prison for the crimes.
The latest criminal complaint from the FBI suggests Padilla has continued to commit crimes. According to the complaint, Padilla is accused of robbing three banks in September 2019.
The first robbery occurred in Española on September 9. Padilla is accused of having a teller a note stating, “give me your loose cash or I’ll shoot you.”
Federal investigators say Padilla used similar threatening notes weeks later in Santa Fe to rob the Wells Fargo on North Guadalupe Street and another branch on West Cordova Street. In each case, the investigators say Padilla didn’t attempt to hide his face.
Padilla’s days walking the streets of Santa Fe may be over for a while. If convicted of the bank robbery charges, Padilla faces up to twenty years in prison.
A judge is expected to decide Friday if Padilla will be held in jail through trial.