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Palm Springs robbery key to identifying 'Snowboarder Bandit'

Suspect makes first court appearance in Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A dozen felony charges were filed today against the suspected Snowboarder Bandit, a Riverside man who got his moniker because of his youthful appearance and the knit hat and ski clothes he allegedly wore while committing a series of Southern California bank robberies.

Michael Brandon Franks made his initial court appearance in a Santa Ana courtroom on 10 counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery, but his arraignment was rescheduled to May 18. He's being held without bail, according to jail records.

The Snowboarder Bandit, who was on the FBI's list of most-wanted Southern California bank robbers, is suspected of holding up 10 banks in Orange County, three in Riverside County and one in Ventura County, according to the FBI.

Franks, 29, was arrested Friday night following multiple tips generated by publicity about the holdups, according to FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking.

"It was completely due to the media that we caught this guy," he said.

Gicking said a surveillance camera photo from a holdup in Palm Springs was especially helpful in identifying the suspect, who had ditched the ski hat in favor of a large motorcycle helmet in several recent holdups.

In the Palm Springs robbery, however, the suspect donned a baseball cap without sunglasses, as he had in past robberies, Gicking said.

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the arrest of Franks, who is being prosecuted in Orange County Superior Court instead of federal court, though it's possible he could face more charges later, Gicking said.

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