Los Altos bank robber pleads guilty, gets seven years

The Los Altos man arrested for a string of armed robberies in the city earlier this year is heading to prison for up to seven years.

Thomas Andrew Cronin, 26, pleaded guilty as charged “right out of the gate” last week to eight counts of armed robbery in Los Altos and two in Mountain View, according to Cindy Hendrickson, Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney in the Palo Alto Branch Office. Cronin will be ordered to pay approximately $7,000 in restitution to the victims of his crimes, she added.

“It’s a testament to how strong the case was,” Hendrickson said of Cronin’s guilty plea Aug. 7.

Los Altos police arrested Cronin May 29 after he robbed the U.S. Bank at 1001 Fremont Ave. earlier in the day. He was later charged with twice robbing both Comerica Bank on Third Street and Standard Liquor on First Street and with once robbing Bank of the West on Main Street.

Cronin was also charged with single counts of robbing the Shell Gas & Service Station at 929 Fremont Ave. and Round Table Pizza at 399 First St. in mid-May. Among the details revealed by prosecutors after his arrest was that Cronin used a black Airsoft BB gun – with its customary red tip colored in black – to commit the crimes.

Hendrickson noted that Cronin pleaded guilty before preliminary examinations began and will be sentenced in early October. He initially faced the possibility of serving a maximum of 14 years in prison if found guilty on all charges, she added, but the prosecution offered to cut the sentence in half if he pleaded guilty before trial.

“It’s common and reasonable for someone to serve less time when they accept early responsibility,” said Hendrickson, who credited Cronin’s attorneys for expediting the outcome of the case.

Hendrickson noted that Cronin’s early guilty plea produced another positive result in addition to saving taxpayer money – it spared his victims from a potentially drawn-out trial.

“This (outcome) saved all of the victims from having to testify,” she said, adding that Cronin will remain in the Santa Clara County Main Jail until sentencing. “They don’t have to come and face him in court now.”

Hendrickson said Cronin – a former student at both Los Altos and St. Francis high schools – must serve at least 85 percent of his seven years because of the nature of his crimes.

“That isn’t anything that can be bargained away – that (sentence) is attached to the charge,” Hendrickson said of the 85 percent threshold, which equates to a minimum time served of approximately six years.

She said Cronin would likely begin his sentence with a 90-day evaluation period at San Quentin State Prison before being assigned to another state prison for the remainder.

“This is a guy who has never been to prison,” she said. “To have someone be able to wrap their mind around going to prison for such a long time is something. In this case, however, he deserved it.”

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