Mobile bank bandit who hit Summit County gets 18 years in prison | SummitDaily.com

Mobile bank bandit who hit Summit County gets 18 years in prison

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

Cynthia Johnson and her 18 aliases were sentenced to 18 years in prison for her part in scamming $37,000 in cash advances from banks in four Western Colorado counties.

EAGLE —

Cynthia Johnson's criminal record is 40 pages long but won't grow longer for the next 18 years.

Cynthia Denise Johnson, who insisted she was Jacquelyn Murray and up to 18 other fake identities when she was robbing regional banks, copped a guilty plea to felony racketeering charges.

District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman sentenced her to 18 years in state prison, the Canyon City Crossbar Hotel — ironically, one year for each of the fake identities she used.

13 banks in two months

Johnson, Vanessa Ravarre and a man calling himself Raymond Everett hit 13 regional banks in September and October 2015 along the I-70 corridor through Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties, faking their way to $37,000 in cash advances using the same forged Capital One credit cards and many of the same fake IDs.

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When the credit card was rejected, and it always was, they would convince bank personnel to call the customer service phone number on the back. One of Johnson's accomplices would provide a code to force the transaction through.

California car caper

While Johnson was doing that, she was on parole in Santa Clara County, California for buying cars with forged credit cards and fake IDs, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney.

Johnson would walk into an auto dealership with a fake credit card and try to buy a car. When the credit card was rejected, she would convince the sales people to call the customer service phone number on the back. As with the bank jobs, an accomplice would provide a code to force the transaction through. The transaction would be approved, and she drove away in a car.

Each car cost about $15,000, according to court records.

After Johnson was arrested for that California car caper, she was interviewed by an investigator who asked, "How many of vehicles have you obtained in this way?"

"Oh, I don't know, 15 or so," she answered.

She was sentenced to California's Folsom prison for that. She was released under California's policy of releasing nonviolent criminals.

She was still on parole for that when she spent last September and October pulling her series of High Country bank heists.

A piece of that timeline goes like this:

• Johnson hit Alpine Bank's Vail and Avon branches on Oct. 3.

• On Oct. 9 she traveled to California for a meeting with her parole officer.

• On Oct. 13, she hopped a plane from Oakland to Las Vegas to Denver and headed up the mountain to continue her Colorado Mobile Bank Bandit caper.v

• She was finally arrested in Frisco while trying to rob a bank with that same credit card scheme.

No furlough

Johnson pleaded guilty late Thursday afternoon to felony racketeering charges.

Dunkelman was nonplussed when she howled that the sentence was too harsh.

Johnson waived her right to have her sentence potentially shortened — time off for good behavior — then asked for a 24-hour furlough to get some personal belongings from a trailer in Minturn.

McCollum was on her feet like she was on springs, pointing out that Johnson was not living in a trailer in Minturn prior to her arrest, and that she has no personal items there or anywhere else.

Dunkelman sided with McCollum, and sent Johnson immediately to prison.