Skip to main content
Press Release

Federal Judge Sentences Serial Bank Robber To Over 10 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced John Howard Johnson, 65, to 130 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, in connection with a series of armed bank robberies he committed in 2019, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Cogburn also ordered Johnson to pay $8,569 as restitution.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, between July 3, 2019, and August 23, 2019, Johnson robbed four banks in North and South Carolina. Court records show that on July 3, 2019, Johnson entered a BB&T bank located at 174 Meeting Street, in Charleston, S.C., and passed a demand note written on an envelope to a teller that read, “I have a gun.  Give me $100s and $50s.” According to court records, Johnson lifted his shirt and exposed what appeared to be a firearm and threatened to shoot the teller. The teller placed $1,800 into an envelope and gave it to Johnson, who then fled the scene in a vehicle.

According to court records, the second bank robbery occurred on July 23, 2019. On that date, Johnson entered the First Bank located at 201 Market Street, in Wilmington, N.C., and, similar to the first robbery, Johnson passed a demand note to the teller, threatening to kill the teller and asking for cash. After the teller handed Johnson the money, Johnson again fled in his vehicle. The next bank robbery occurred on July 31, 2019, at the BB&T bank located at 150 S. Main Street, in Mount Holly, N.C. As with the prior robberies, Johnson entered the bank, passed a demand note written on an envelope to a teller that read, “I have a gun in my shorts.  Give me all of your 50s and 100s.  Don’t make me kill you.  Don’t make me shoot you.” After the teller put the cash into an envelope and gave it to Johnson, the defendant fled in the same vehicle.

According to court records, on August 23, 2019, Johnson entered the TD Bank located at 535 Greenville Highway, in Hendersonville, N.C., and again passed a demand note to the teller that read, “This is not a joke, I have a gun, I will kill you.”  Johnson took the money the teller handed him and left the bank in his vehicle.

Law enforcement arrested Johnson in Charleston in September 2019. On February 3, 2020, he pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges. Johnson is in federal custody and will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. 

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney thanked the FBI, the Mt. Holly Police Department, the Hendersonville Police Department, the Wilmington Police Department, the Charleston Police Department and the Sever County Police Department for investigation of this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, prosecuted the case.

Updated July 14, 2020

Violent Crime