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Murrieta man who tossed bank robbery cash onto freeway is sentenced to 7 years

By in Press Enterprise on February 6, 2018

By City News Service

An ex-con who robbed a bank just east of Lake Elsinore and then threw wads of cash onto the 15 Freeway as he led sheriff’s deputies on a chase that ended in a wreck was sentenced Monday, Feb. 5 to seven years in state prison.

Thomas Jerome Burke, 25, of Murrieta. (Photo courtesy of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

Thomas Jerome Burke, 25, of Murrieta pleaded guilty last week to robbery, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped a charge of felony evading.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Ponder, about 4 p.m. Dec. 9, the defendant held up a Bank of America branch in the 29000 block of Canyon Hills Road, near Railroad Canyon Road, and then fled the location in a gold Buick sedan.

  • Previously: If you picked up any bank robbery cash thrown on 15 Freeway, police would like it back

Ponder said in a news release that deputies responding to the bank’s 911 call spotted the vehicle heading north on the 15 and gave chase. Burke tried to shake the patrol units and tossed money out of the Buick as he entered the unincorporated community of El Cerrito, just south of Corona, according to Ponder.

A few motorists stopped on the freeway to grab the bills.

Burke exited the 15 at Cajalco Road, where he collided with another vehicle, ending the chase, the sergeant said. The other vehicle’s driver was not hurt.

Burke was taken into custody without further incident. He was hospitalized with serious injuries, then booked into jail two days later after he was treated.

Ponder said the money grabbed on the freeway was evidence, and investigators sought the parties who took it, asking them to return the cash. It was unclear whether anyone did.

According to court records, Burke has prior convictions for robbery, burglary and possession of controlled substances.

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