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Press Release

Carroll County Man Charged with Carjacking and Attempted Bank Robbery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Allegedly Carjacked an Unlicensed Taxi and Forced the Driver to Wear and Carry a Purported Explosive Device to Rob a Bank

Baltimore, Maryland – Franklin Albert Johnson, age 41, of, Westminster, Maryland, has been charged with attempted bank robbery and carjacking, in connection with the July 23, 2015, attempted robbery of a bank in Mt. Airy, Maryland, in which the alleged carjacking victim was forced to wear and carry purported explosive devices. The criminal complaint was filed on October 27, 2015 and unsealed on October 29, 2015 at Johnson’s initial appearance. Johnson remains detained.

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Chief Gary Gardner of the Howard County Police Department.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on July 23, 2015, a man entered the bank while talking on a cell phone and carrying a briefcase.  He approached a bank employee and handed the employee the cell phone. He also opened the briefcase and displayed what appeared to be a homemade explosive device.  The bank employee immediately ordered the evacuation of the bank.  The suspected robber remained in the bank briefly, and was seen on bank surveillance video using a pair of scissors to remove a second apparent explosive that was attached to his person with duct tape. After the man removed the device from his body, he left the bank, but stayed at the scene and surrendered to police when they arrived.

The man told law enforcement that he had been operating as a “hack” (unlicensed taxi) near Lexington Market, in Baltimore City, and had picked up an unknown male customer (“UM”), subsequently identified as Johnson, who later forced him at gunpoint to wear what he believed was an explosive device, and to carry a second purported explosive device into the bank in the briefcase.  Johnson allegedly told the victim that he was going to rob a bank for him and that if he did as directed he would not be harmed.  Johnson dropped the victim off at the bank, and directed him to hand the cell phone to a bank employee. The victim entered the bank and gave the phone to a bank employee, who spoke with Johnson, who was already on the line.  Upon exiting the bank, the victim saw that Johnson was no longer parked in the parking lot, but was afraid he would return, so he walked across the street from the bank and waited for the arrival of the police, to whom he surrendered.  The victim’s vehicle, a Gold Hyundai Elantra, was recovered a short time later, parked near the Woodbine Inn. The two purported explosive devices were recovered and found to be inert.  An examination by the FBI Crime Lab found that the devices were carefully designed and constructed to look like actual explosive devices.

Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempted bank robbery and a maximum of 20 years in prison for carjacking.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended FBI and Howard County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Purcell, who is prosecuting the case.

Updated October 30, 2015

Violent Crime