Anthony Johnson liked to go to a movie theater with a female, sit near women and then crawl around the floors, removing credit cards from their purses, federal prosecutors allege.
Dressed in black and wearing a baseball cap, he would slither through rows of dropped popcorn and across streams of sticky soda near unsuspecting patrons at the Fairfield Cinemas in Fairfield, as well as Bow-Tie Cinemas in Greenwich and Gallery Cinema Theater in Colchester.
After leaving a theater with their stash, the pair would hit area department stores purchasing high-priced items and gift cards, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale claimed in a court document.
Johnson is on trial before U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant and a 12-person jury on eight charges of unauthorized use of credit cards and two charges of identity theft.
An investigation by the FBI and local police determined the credit cards were stolen Dec. 27, 2008, during a 7:19 p.m. screening of the "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" at the Bow-Tie Cinema in Greenwich; on April 3, 2010 ,at the same theater; and July 10, 2010, at the Fairfield Cinemas.
His two accomplices, Jamie McGowan and Lashirelle Bryant, both pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized use of credit cards and aggravated identity theft. The federal sentencing guidelines recommend each receives a prison sentence between 36 and 42 months.
Following the 2008 theft during the "Benjamin Button" movie, court documents claim Johnson and Bryant left the theater 40 minutes after the show began. A half-hour later, they were at the Target store in Stamford where Bryant allegedly used a stolen Mastercard to purchase two iPods, four gift cards and clothes valued at more than $4,000.
The next day, the pair made purchases totaling about $30,000 in Branford, North Haven, Orange and Milford, and nearly $19,000 more at stores in Foxwoods Casino, the documents charge. The 2010 theft at the Greenwich theater enabled McGowan to purchase nearly $6,000 worth of items at Target in Stamford, according to court documents.
And the 2010 theft at the Fairfield Cinemas resulted in McGowan charging $383 of merchandise at Target in Trumbull, court documents allege. Johnson is accused of charging $5,801 at Target in Milford using a credit card stolen in that theft, the documents state.