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Robber who hit Medford bank enters guilty plea pleads guilty

A bank robber who garnered the nicknames "The Fake Bearded Bandit" and "Skeletor" after a multi-state string of crimes has pleaded guilty to armed robbery charges and is expected to be sentenced Jan. 9.

According to a news release, Russell James Dean, 52, of Lincoln, Calif., committed 10 bank robberies — including a Medford bank in 2010 and others in Northern California and Arizona.

Dean, who sometimes wore a false mustache and beard during the robbery attempts, pleaded guilty to seven robberies in an Arizona courtroom Aug. 31, but admitted to all the robberies.

Dean's sentence could carry up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years' post-prison supervision.

The robbery spree happened between July 13 and Dec. 11, 2010, when he was arrested following a Bank of America robbery in Phoenix, Ariz.

He robbed banks in Albany, Chico, Calif., Redding Calif., and Flagstaff, Surprise and Prescott, Ariz.

"He got into some financial difficulties," said Lt. Bob Hansen of Medford police.

The Medford robbery occurred Sept. 14, at PremierWest Bank, 2600 E. Barnett Road. Hansen said Dean, wearing a fake mustache and beard, entered the bank brandishing a firearm and demanded money. A teller complied, and Dean fled on a bicycle with a "significant" amount of money. No one was injured. It was the third robbery of the 10 he committed.

Dean was nicknamed the "Fake Bearded Bandit" because of his robbery apparel. He was later nicknamed "Skeletor" because of a mask he used in subsequent robbery attempts.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email him at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.