By Warren Talbot
---- — A man who was arrested in Methuen as he was about to attempt to rob the Sovereign Bank at The Loop in May of 2010, has pleaded guilty to carrying out five bank robberies in Newton and Wellesley and was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in state prison.
Wilfredo Alarcon, 45, of Newton and formerly of Haverhill, had been dubbed the “South Side Bandit” and had been targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Bank Robbery Task Force when he was surprised by state, federal and local police as he was masked and about the enter the Methuen bank at 11 a.m. on May 20, 2010.
“This defendant robbed five different banks and employed fear and threats of violence to do so, while carrying what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement yesterday “He will now serve a considerable amount of time in state prison for these crimes.”
Alarcon, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court to five counts each of masked armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon and stealing by placing in fear. He also pleaded guilty to attempted masked armed robbery related to his arrest in Methuen.
According to Coakley’s office, Alarcon robbed five banks in Newton and Wellesley of a total of about $51,000 over a period of five months beginning on Jan. 25.
He typically entered the banks with a black mask over his face, a hoodie or baseball cap, latex gloves, and what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon, but which was ultimately revealed to be an air pistol. He would then demand large bills from the bank workers, at times ordering others on the ground, and use threats of violence until he was given the money.
He was surrounded by about 50 law enforcement officers when he showed up in the parking lot outside the Sovereign Bank in The Loop wearing latex gloves, a black mask under his baseball cap, and carrying the air pistol. Agents used a so-called “flash-bang” device to disable him in the parking lot.
At the time of his arrest he was the subject of a multi-state undercover operation that stretched from Boston to Plaistow to Andover and, finally, Methuen.
Police said Alarcon had been tailed from Boston and that he first went to Plaistow where the Ocean Bank was robbed on May 14, and then drove to The Loop.
Authorities said two employees at the Ocean Bank in Plaistow provided them with a description of the getaway vehicle and a partial license plate number that led investigators to Alarcon.