Mobile bank bandit sentenced to 18 years | VailDaily.com

Mobile bank bandit sentenced to 18 years

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.
Special to the Daily |

EAGLE – Cynthia Johnson’s criminal record is 40 pages long, but it won’t grow any 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 stealing cash from regional banks, copped a guilty plea to felony racketeering charges. District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman sentenced her to 18 years in state prison, the Canon City — 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 pulled 15 heists in regional banks in September and October 2015 along the Interstate 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.

When the credit card was rejected, and it always was, the scammers 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. They were successful seven times.

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, the same scam she was using with western Colorado banks.

“This is the precise scam Johnson used in California in late 2010 and early 2011 when she stole approximately 15 vehicles from dealerships by having an accomplice on the telephone give authorization for the dealerships to ‘force’ the sales,” said Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum, who prosecuted the case.

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

She was sentenced to California’s Folsom prison for those thefts. She was released under California’s policy of releasing non-violent criminals.

Johnson was still on parole for her California crimes when she spent September and October of 2015 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 Oct. 3.

• She traveled back to California on Oct. 9 for a meeting with her parole officer.

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

• The next day, Oct. 14, Johnson was arrested in Frisco after a failed attempt to scam a cash advance of nearly $5,000 from Alpine Bank using a fake credit card under a false name.

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 with time off for good behavior, then asked for a 24-hour furlough to get some personal belongings from a trailer in Minturn.

McCollum leapt to her feet, 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 sent Johnson immediately to prison.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.