Oakland authorities arrested a Union City man who is accused of robbing 21 different stores in the Bay Area last year who allegedly told clerks he was in desperate need of money to support his son’s life insurance.

However, when Fremont police interviewed the man last November, his story was completely different. The suspect, 40-year-old Nelson Ramirez said he was not a father. Authorities learned Ramirez had financial troubles due to a gambling problem when they asked his brother.

Multiple Robberies

Police identified Ramirez as a suspect after watching a video recording captured by a surveillance camera. Authorities found clothes and a replica handgun which appeared to be similar to the one used in multiple store robberies in the Bay Area after they arrested the suspect last year.

The complaint said police had Ramirez wear a hoodie and a mask similar to what was used by the robber.

In some of the robberies, the criminal said his son needed the money to pay for his life insurance. Federal prosecutors have since filed robbery charges against the suspect and are looking forward to a superseding indictment.

“I need help. My son, he’s sick. I don’t have insurance. I’m losing my insurance. I don’t have a job. I’m not going to hurt you guys. My son is very sick. Give me all the money,” Ramirez allegedly told an East Bay Chevron store clerk.

However, in a separate incident in a Hayward gas station last month, witnesses alleged Ramirez pulled out his gun, which he claimed was real, and threatened clerks. The woman was frightened and was forced to hand over a stack of $20 bills, Mercury News reported.

The suspect has appeared in court multiple times after being charged in early March. However, a federal judge has yet to rule whether to put him in jail or let him go free while the charges are pending. If convicted, Ramirez could serve up to 20 years in federal prison.