So-white-he’s-almost-invisible, Polish-immigrant-turned-thief Conrad Zdzierak did little last week to placate American race relations after pleading guilty to a robbery spree in which he disguised himself as a black man…
|Conrad Zdzierak’s disguise worked so well that one mother of a black suspect even falsely identified her son from surveillance photos|
Back in April, a lone robber hit four banks and a CVS pharmacy in the Cincinnati area in a single day, reportedly pocketing an estimated $15,000. According to eyewitness reports and video surveillance footage, the marauder was a black man in dark clothes and sunglasses.
In the early stages of the investigation, authorities arrested a black man after he was identified by several victims from a police line up. The man in custody was also fingered as the culprit by his own mother after she tagged him from security camera footage.
But justice had hit a snag: Investigators had the wrong man.
The real smooth criminal, 30-year-old Conrad Zdzierak — a gangly white guy — had been able to confound authorities because he had disguised himself as a black man via a “movie quality silicone African American mask” he had purchased online for around $600.
“The suspect seen in the surveillance photographs and that we were looking for, we believed to be an African American male,” said Springdale Police Lieutenant Michael Mathis. “The suspect was actually a male, white, who was wearing an elaborate disguise.”
Authorities have not released the name of the man wrongly accused in the investigation. However, they did say they were only able to ascertain the identity of the true perp after Zdzierak’s girlfriend called them saying she had seen reports of the robberies and had found two masks and dye-stained money in her boyfriend’s possession.
Investigators reckon that Zdzierak was able to — at least for awhile — throw them off his trail by removing his mask in-between heists and driving to his next target while police were consumed by looking for a black suspect.
Initially booked with six counts of aggravated robbery and held on a $3 million bond, Zdezierak pleaded guilty in a Hamilton County, Ohio court last week to six counts of robbery. He could spend up to 35 years behind bars.
Zdzierak will be sentenced January 7.
The owner of SPFXmasks — the maker of the black man disguise used by Zdzierak — says this isn’t the first time one of his customers has used his wares for illicit purposes. However, he’s quick to point out that he does not condone such activity.
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