A white Ohio man has pleaded guilty to six robberies while disguised as a black man -- a mask so convincing that a black man was initially arrested for one of the crimes
Conrad Zdzierak, 30, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of aggravated robbery and five counts of robbery in a plea deal with prosecutors. He faces up to 35 years in prison.
Back in March and April, Zdzierak robbed four banks, a credit union and a pharmacy, making away with $15,000. Witnesses said the robber was a black man, and surveillance video (photo below) seemed to back up those accounts.
However, the robber was not black -- he was a white man wearing a silicone mask similar to this one:
The mask was so convincing that the mother of the man who was first arrested saw a picture of the robbery suspect on television and thought it was her son.
Zdzierak probably would have gotten away with it had it not been for his girlfriend. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the woman found two masks and money stained by dye that is used to track robbers after seeing reports on the robberies. She called police and turned Zdzierak in.
"Conrad apologizes to everyone, is sorry for any harm he has caused and accepts responsibility for his actions," his lawyer Christopher McDowell said.
McDowell said his client purchased the masks from a California company called. SPFXmasks. The silicone masks 'look and behave like real flesh and muscle,' the company's web site says.
Company owner Rusty Slusser said the masks are normally bought for movies, Halloween, haunted houses and stage shows. But he admits this is not the first time they have been used for criminal purposes.
"We do not condone any illegal activity with our masks," Slusser said.