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Press Release

Fairfield County man pleads guilty to armed bank robberies in Athens, Marietta

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A career bank robber pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to armed bank robberies in Athens and Marietta in 2020. The plea includes an agreed-upon sentence of more than 13 years in federal prison.


William E. Johnson, 58, of Lancaster, admitted to committing armed robberies in August 2020 in Athens and October 2020 in Marietta.


Johnson’s plea agreement details that on Aug. 17, 2020, he brandished a firearm at Hocking Valley Bank on East State Street in Athens. Johnson wore a prosthetic forehead and nose, skin-toned arm sleeves/gloves, makeup and a COVID mask, all designed to disguise his appearance.


Johnson ordered employees to get on the floor and then emptied several drawers of cash. In total, he took more than $25,000. After stealing the cash, he tied the employees’ hands with zip ties. Johnson ordered the bank manager to give him the keys to the bank manager’s car and the manager complied. Johnson fled the bank in the stolen vehicle.


On Oct. 22, 2020, Johnson robbed the Citizens Bank on North Second Street in Marietta. Johnson was wearing a full-length Halloween-style mask that made him appear to be an old man and wore a red hood pulled up around his face.


Johnson possessed a gun and forced his way behind the tellers’ counter. He emptied several drawers, stealing $11,390.


At the time, Johnson had a warrant out for his arrest for a pending indictment for a bank robbery in Williamstown, West Virginia.


Law enforcement officers spotted Johnson driving in West Virginia on the evening of the Marietta bank robbery and pulled him over. Johnson attempted to flee on foot, telling officers they would have to kill him to take him into custody again. Officers tased Johnson and placed him under arrest.


Officers searched Johnson’s vehicle and located more than $9,000 in cash, a loaded handgun, zip ties and his disguises.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cincinnati Division; the Athens, Marietta, Williamstown, W.Va. and Parkersburg, W.Va. police departments; the Washington County and Wood County, W.Va. sheriff’s offices; and the West Virginia State Police announced the guilty plea entered on April 27 before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. Assistant United States Attorneys Noah R. Litton and S. Courter Shimeall are representing the United States in this case.


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Updated May 1, 2023

Violent Crime