By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas man, dubbed the "Mesh Mask Bandit" by the FBI, pled guilty in federal court on Tuesday to robbing five banks and admitted robbing more than a dozen others in a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to court records.
Luis de la Garza, 59, who admitted to being the bandit who robbed banks while wearing long sleeved clothing, a mesh mask, cap and gloves, pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez in Dallas federal court on Tuesday.
De la Garza was charged with five robberies, but admitted to 13 others and to two attempted robberies in an agreement with prosecutors filed with the court. Eighteen of the 20 robberies or attempted robberies were in the first five months of 2013.
De la Garza, a Mexican immigrant and immigration activist, lives in Farmer's Branch, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas.
He twice failed to get cash and bystanders tried but failed to stop him in two other robberies, according to court documents.
In an April holdup, a bank president saw de la Garza exit the lobby of his bank and pursued him, firing five shots at the fleeing robber, but missed, according to court documents. De la Garza did not fire back and made off with $8,500.
In May, a bank customer grabbed de la Garza's pistol from the counter and struck him in the head with it, according to court documents. An employee struggled with de la Garza, who struck the worker in the face with his elbow and fled with more than $12,000. De la Garza left the handgun behind, which turned out to be a BB gun that uses compressed air.
De la Garza could be receive up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in Dallas federal court. He agreed to pay nearly $146,000 in restitution.
(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)