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Creepy Crawling Credit Card Thief Gets 16 Years in Jail

The mastermind of the credit card and ID theft ring preyed on unsuspecting women watching movies in Greenwich.

Written by Barbara Heins
The mastermind of a credit card and identity theft ring that preyed upon women attending movies in Greenwich, has been sentenced to 16 years in jail.

According to an announcement from the US Attorney's office, Anthony Johnson, 50, of Philadelphia, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 192 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for stealing credit cards and identities from women who were victimized in Connecticut movie theaters. 

On Oct. 22, 2012, a jury found Johnson guilty of multiple counts of unauthorized use of an access device and aggravated identity theft.

According to the evidence presented during his trial, Johnson with the assistance of female accomplices engaged in a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme at several movie theaters in Connecticut.  In one incident that occurred on Dec. 27, 2008, Johnson and Lashirelle Bryant entered a movie theater in Greenwich and sat directly behind their intended victim. While the movie was playing, Johnson crawled on the floor and stole three credit cards from a female victim’s purse.  Johnson and Bryant then left the theater and Johnson used equipment to produce a driver’s license in the victim’s name, but with Bryant’s photograph.  

Johnson and Bryant then used the stolen credit cards to make more than $50,000 in unauthorized purchases. The purchases included gift cards, clothing, electronics, designer sunglasses and a $10,000 Rolex watch.

Johnson also traveled to Connecticut on at least three occasions between April and August 2010 and stole credit cards from female patrons at theaters in Greenwich, Fairfield and Colchester, according to authorities.

Johnson produced false driver’s licenses in each victim’s name, but with a photograph of Jamie McGowan, his female accomplice on these trips. McGowan, at Johnson's direction, used the stolen credit cards and fraudulent identification to purchase thousands of dollars in gift cards and retail items, and also to make more than $5,000 in cash advances at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

McGowan testified at trial that she participated in Johnson's credit card theft scheme for more than a year. During that time, a “good weekend” yielded between $50,000 and $70,000 and a “bad weekend” yielded between $20,000 and $30,000. McGowan stated that most weekends were “good weekends.”  Trial testimony also revealed that Johnson committed similar crimes in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Hawaii.

Johnson has an extensive criminal history dating to his first arrest at the age of 12, and he began this credit card fraud and identity theft scheme in July 2008, shortly after completing a 71-month federal sentence for jewelry theft.

Johnson has been in custody since October 2010 after he was arrested in Indiana on a violation of supervised release warrant from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

On June 22, 2012, Bryant and McGowan each pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and one count of aggravated identity theft.  On Nov. 29, 2012, McGowan was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment.  Bryant awaits sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich, Fairfield and Waterford Police departments investigated the case which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Kale and Paul H. McConnell.

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