Philly man found guilty of identity theft

A federal jury in Hartford recently found Anthony Johnson, 49, of Philadelphia guilty of credit card fraud and identity theft, nearly a year after he was first detained in November of 2011.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant began on Oct. 16, and examined the theft offenses stemming from tens of thousands of dollars in purchases Mr. Johnson allegedly made on credit cards he stole from women in Connecticut movie theaters, including in Greenwich.

According to the evidence presented during the trial and statements made during previous court proceedings, Mr. Johnson and others engaged in a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme at movie theaters in the state. As part of the scheme, Mr. Johnson targeted movies that he believed were geared toward women. Along with female accomplices, he would then enter the theater, sit behind an intended victim and crawl on the floor to remove credit cards from a purse that a victim had placed on the floor during the movie.

On Dec. 27, 2008, Mr. Johnson and Lashirelle Bryant traveled from Pennsylvania to Connecticut and entered a movie theater in Greenwich. While the movie was playing, Mr. Johnson crawled on the floor and stole three credit cards from a female victim’s purse. The pair then left the theater and Mr. Johnson allegedly created a driver’s license with the victim’s name, but with Ms. Bryant’s photograph. Mr. Johnson and Ms. Bryant, reportedly at Mr. Johnson’s direction, used the stolen credit cards to make more than $50,000 in unauthorized purchases including gift cards, clothing, electronics, designer sunglasses and a $10,000 Rolex watch.

Mr. Johnson also traveled to Connecticut on three occasions between April and August of 2010 and stole credit cards from female patrons at theaters in Greenwich, Fairfield and Colchester. Mr. Johnson allegedly produced false driver’s licenses in each victim’s name, but with a photograph of Jamie McGowan, his female accomplice on these trips. Ms. McGowan, at Mr. 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.

Mr. Johnson was found guilty of seven counts of unauthorized use of an access device, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each count. He was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated identity theft, a charge that carries a mandatory two-year term of imprisonment, which must be imposed to run consecutively to the sentence imposed for unauthorized use of an access device.

Judge Bryant has scheduled Mr. Johnson’s sentencing for Jan. 14, 2013.

On June 22, Ms. Bryant and Ms. McGowan each pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and one count of aggravated identity theft. They await sentencing.

This matter has been investigated by the FBI and the Greenwich, Fairfield and Waterford Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rahul Kale and Paul H. McConnell.

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