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Bank Robber Changed Age, Sex and Race : Weary ‘Master of Disguise’ Surrenders to FBI

Associated Press

A “master of disguise” who passed himself off as a woman and masked his age and race to steal $350,000 in a nationwide string of bank robberies finally tired of his three-year charade and surrendered to the FBI, the agency says.

Antonio Johnson, 26, of Detroit was being held at the Federal Correctional Institute in Milan pending a hearing on charges stemming from the Nov. 13 holdup of a Comerica Bank branch in Detroit, the FBI said. FBI Special Agent John Anthony said Wednesday that Johnson drastically altered his appearance to pull off at least 22 robberies of banks and savings and loans from New York to San Francisco over the last three years.

The FBI said that among the robberies linked to Johnson was a Sept. 2, 1982, holdup of a Bank of America branch in San Francisco, in which a suspect decribed as a white woman handed a note to the manager saying explosives were planted in the bank.

Johnson, who is black, also disguised himself as a white man of about 60 and a black woman in her 20s during the robberies in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Denver, and various cities in Alabama, Connecticut and Washington, the agency said.

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He used “superb makeup work, wigs, false beards, mustaches, eyelashes, rubber inserts to alter the shape of his nose--a whole bag of tricks,” Anthony said.

Kenneth Walton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, said Johnson “just got tired of running. He’d been doing it for three years and every guy in a suit began looking like an FBI agent.”

He was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court with bank robbery in the Comerica holdup.


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