A former postdoctoral neuroscience researcher at UC San Diego pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out a series of credit union heists throughout the county.
Karl Doron, 45, pleaded guilty to nearly a dozen robbery and attempted robbery counts stemming from a string of holdups committed between Dec. 28, 2018, and March 5, 2019, in various parts of San Diego, as well as Chula Vista.
He was arrested on March 5, 2019, upon leaving the Navy Federal Credit Union in Sorrento Valley, after he demanded cash from employees. He was carrying a loaded handgun and just over $5,000 in cash when taken into custody, according to police and prosecutors.
His plea includes admissions that he was armed with a handgun during the last two robberies.
In most of the heists, he was not accused of being armed or using force, but rather securing cash through verbal demands or notes slipped to tellers. He made off with anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 in each robbery, and between $10,000 and $15,000 total, according to prosecutors.
Investigators tracked Doron down through his car, which was photographed by a bank teller following an attempted robbery. Surveillance footage from another robbery also captured the license plate of the suspect’s car, police said.
Following his arrest, investigators searched Doron’s home in Clairemont and found some clothes matching apparel the suspect was seen wearing in surveillance footage. Investigators also found a calculator, which prosecutors said the suspect held up to his ear as though it were a cellphone during some of the robberies.
Doron, who holds a doctorate in psychological and brain sciences, graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 and previously served as an infantry squad leader in the Marine Corps, according to his LinkedIn page. His last entry on the page was for work as a postdoctoral scholar at UCSD, which ended in January 2015 and involved conducting “realtime brain-machine interface experiments using electroencephalography.”
Sentencing is set for Oct. 27.