A Philadelphia man was on Monday convicted in federal court of using stolen credit cards and identity theft for crawling under the seats of Connecticut movie theaters, stealing cards from unsuspecting patrons' purses and, with the help of female accomplices, racking up as much as $50,000 to $70,000 in charges on a "good" weekend, according to a report from the Connecticut Post.
The paper states that Anthony Johnson, 49, was known as "Hustlin' Tone," on the streets of Philly, where he reportedly drove a gold Mercedes and wore dapper designer threads. The 49-year-old convicted felon, who was released in prison in 2007 for a diamond ring theft in the Philadelphia area, made a living in Connecticut selling the goods he bought using the proceeds of his thefts, including $1,000 gift cards, iPods, cell phones and sunglasses.
Two of Johnson's accomplices, Jamie Lynn McGowan and Lashirelle Bryant, pleaded guilty to one count each of identity theft and using a stolen credit card and, in return, testified against him.
McGowan said that Johnson would choose theaters primarily in Fairfield County that were showing movies he thought would draw "a lot of white women," such as "Eat, Pray, Love," and "Twilight Eclipse." McGowan told the jury, "He said these were million dollar movies." Johnson would slither "like a snake" across theater floors to pilfer cards from partially-opened purses, she claimed. She said that after gathering several credit cards, the duo would leave in a rented van and Johnson would create an identity card using the victim's name and McGowan's photo.
McGowan said Johnson would then send her on spending sprees to Target or the state's casinos, where they would buy $1,000 gift cards, phone cards, electronics and clothing or obtain $2,000 cash advances and purchase Cartier sunglasses valued between $500 and $800 a pair. Johnson would sell the goods for a deep discount, she said, charging as little as 50 percent of the items' market values. "A good weekend was $50,000 to $70,000," McGowan said of the pair's profits. "$30,000 to $40,000 was a bad weekend."
Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the seven charges of using stolen credit cards and a mandatory two-year consecutive sentences for each of the two identity theft charges. He is next due in court for sentencing on Jan. 14, but reportedly intends to appeal the conviction.