Bombshell bandit
Sandeep Kaur was caught on bank surveillance cameras during her robberies.

Sandeep Kaur, an Indian-origin woman who earned the moniker 'Bombshell Bandit' for a spate of robberies in the United States last year, has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and slapped with a penalty of 'tens of thousands of dollars'. 

Kaur, 24, who used to work as a nurse in Cailfornia, conducted four sensational bank heists last year in the states of Utah, Arizona and California, by threatening bank tellers that she would set off a bomb if they failed to hand over money. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) nicknamed Kaur as 'Bombshell Bandit' following the robberies, in which she looted up to $40,000 from three banks before she was caught while attempting a similar heist on the US Bank in St George in Utah last July. 

Kaur was given a movie-like, high-speed chase in Nevada and was apprehended after an hour-long stand-off, according to St George News

She had admitted her guilt in January in the four robberies, of which her first was the most successful, when she ran away with $21,200 from a bank in California. 

Kaur's attorney, Jay Winward had sought a lesser prison term, referring to her as a "good, wholesome person who made some horrible decisions". 

He said that Kaur was brought up in a 'traditional Indian family', and was a well-educated woman with no previous criminal record. She had graduated from a nursing school when she was 19 and was working as a professional nurse in California. 

However, he said, Kaur felt "trapped and bullied" and ran away from home after she was asked to enter into an arranged marriage. 

She later married her boyfriend, but was abused in that relationship, the attorney said. 

Kaur's downhill journey started when she became addicted to gambling in Las Vegas and landed herself in debt. 

Last summer, she took to the serial crime of bank robberies, in which she would enter banks well-dressed, often wearing dark sunglasses and a scarf covering her head, and would hand a note to the teller threatening to detonate a bomb if they failed to part with the money. 

While Winward argued that Kaur was not a violent person, the prosecutor held her responsible for a 'violent, serial', crime spree, according to the local newspaper. 

The FBI San Diego division had put up photographs of her on their site taken from surveillance cameras in the banks she robbed, and referred to her as 'Bombshell Bandit' for her modus operandi. 

The US District Judge Ted Stewart had called Kaur's case 'complex' given her background and the crimes, but said that her life experiences did not justify the crimes. 

She has also been ordered to pay back the amount that she robbed from the banks.