5 years later, Waterford's 'Bonnie and Clyde' wannabe pleads guilty to bank robbery

Almost five years after a red dye pack exploded in his bag of stolen loot, a Waterford man pleaded guilty to a bank robbery spree that he pulled off with a friend and his wife — the getaway driver who unabashedly admitted to enjoying life on the wild side.

"She said the robbery was exciting and compared her and her husband to Bonnie and Clyde," an FBI agent wrote in a court affidavit, referring to the wife's comment to cops after her arrest.

That was 2018. Another four and a half years would pass before her so-called "Clyde" admitted to his crimes.

In U.S. District Court this week, David Johnson, 54, pleaded guilty to bank robbery and weapons offenses before U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III, admitting to his role in two holdups that involved his wife, a friend and a short-barreled shotgun.

David Johnson and Robert Gunther, both convicted bank robbers, pictured here holding up a Citizens Bank in Taylor in 2018.
David Johnson and Robert Gunther, both convicted bank robbers, pictured here holding up a Citizens Bank in Taylor in 2018.

Johnson's wife, Connie, was also charged and had planned to pursue an insanity defense, though she died last year, court records show. One month before she died, Johnson's accomplice, Robert Gunther, cut a deal and pleaded guilty to crimes that got him a 20-year prison sentence.

"I have never been as frightened as I was at the moment that Mr. Gunther and Mr. Johnson entered the bank wearing hoods and masks with a loaded weapon," one bank manager told the authorities.

Johnson, though, long professed his innocence and, to the chagrin of the prosecution, repeatedly asked the court to adjourn his trial. He was in solitary confinement for years, which he argued interfered with his ability to prepare for trial, which was scheduled for last October.

"This case has been pending for more than four years," prosecutors argued in court filings last year. "(Johnson) claims that he has not had adequate time to prepare for trial because of the time he has spent in solitary confinement resulting from his own misconduct. But there is no need to adjourn the trial as the defendant still has more than two months to prepare."

In the end, Johnson cut a deal, too.

Convicted bank robber David Johnson of Waterford pictured here during a 2018 holdup at a Citizen's bank in Taylor.
Convicted bank robber David Johnson of Waterford pictured here during a 2018 holdup at a Citizen's bank in Taylor.

One failed robbery and then a mess

According to court records, here is what landed him and his cohorts in federal court:

On a June morning in 2018, Johnson and Gunther walked into the Dearborn Federal Savings Bank on Telegraph Road and announced a robbery, shouting: "On the floor, people."

Gunther pointed a short-barreled shotgun at the tellers — Johnson demanded the money. The plan, however, fizzled as the two men were unable to access the teller area and left empty-handed.

They fled in a car driven by Johnson's wife, who then took them to a Citizen's Bank on Eureka Road in Taylor.

They went in, flashed a gun, announced a robbery, and made off with more than $4,000. But that plan blew up on them, too, literally.

They didn't hide any better than they committed robberies

The bag of stolen loot had red dye packs inside, which exploded while the robbers were driving down Eureka Road. So they threw the money out the window and pulled into a Bob Evans parking lot, where Gunther got out, removed his hooded sweatshirt and black hat and headed toward some railroad tracks, where he ditched the clothing and took off running.

Gunther was arrested that day, though he put up a fight. While on the run, he stole a knife from a nearby house and threatened police with it when they caught up with him.

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Johnson and his wife were arrested that day, too. The couple had a motel room in Pontiac, where police found the shotgun used in the robbery. It was loaded.

Johnson faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for the bank robbery offense, and not less than 10 years’ imprisonment for using a short-barreled shotgun during the robberies. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 4.

“Armed bank robbery places the lives of bank employees and customers at risk. We will continue to remove violent actors who endanger public safety from our community,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement Friday.

Added Detroit's FBI chief James Tarasca: “Violent criminals who use guns during bank robberies deprive employees of their right to feel safe and secure in their workplaces.”

Contact Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 5 years later, 'Bonnie and Clyde' wannabe admits he robbed banks