Crime - Sacto 911

Attorney says boyfriend coerced bank robbery suspect

Security footage shows the suspect at a July 9 bank robbery at a Bank of the West on Manzanita Avenue.
Security footage shows the suspect at a July 9 bank robbery at a Bank of the West on Manzanita Avenue. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department

The attorney for Dominique Marie Polani – the woman jailed in a recent string of Sacramento bank robberies – said she was coerced into the heists by a boyfriend.

“At first glance, it’s a Bonnie-and-Clyde situation, but it definitely isn’t,” said Polan’s attorney and family friend Marcus Wiggins. “She was under the direction of someone else’s instructions.”

Wiggins added that his client was “an unwilling participant in this entire enterprise” and that he plans to elaborate on the pair’s relationship and how it led to the crimes at a bail hearing Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Polani, 22, was arrested late Friday near Bakersfield on suspicion of bank robberies from July 1 through July 15, allegedly hitting Citibank, Bank of the West and Chase Bank branches in Carmichael, Rosemont and the Arden Arcade area, the last three in the space of two days, say authorities. She was arraigned Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court on five counts of second-degree robbery in the bank jobs and remains held at Sacramento County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. She was booked as “Donimique Marie Polani.”

Investigators said tips on social media and bank cameras’ surveillance footage led to Polani’s arrest. But that same camera footage shows Polani apparently doing little to conceal her identity to bank tellers, wearing a gray baseball cap and thick-rimmed glasses at a Manzanita Avenue bank branch July 9 in the second of the five robberies. In each instance, she allegedly slipped notes to tellers saying she was armed and demanded cash.

“She’s holding up the best she can. She’s never been in any trouble at all,” Wiggins said, adding that her family did not know the extent of her involvement in the robberies until her arrest in Kern County. A scan of Sacramento Superior Court records showed no prior cases.

Wiggins said Polani was born and raised in the area and her family lives locally. Her Facebook profile indicated she is from the Stockton-area neighborhood of Lincoln Village, was employed by In-Home Supportive Services, a county caregiver program for elderly and disabled residents, and attended American River College. Officials at the college Wednesday said Polani applied to American River College in 2013, declaring a major in culinary arts, but never enrolled or attended classes. She also applied to Folsom Lake College, but did not register and no transcript was ever filed with Los Rios Community College District.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith