A Westminster man faces up to 40 years in prison after being accused of attempting to rob a Howard County bank by forcing a man he carjacked to wear and carry a supposed bomb into the financial institution.

Franklin Albert Johnson, 41, is charged with one count each of carjacking and attempted bank robbery, according to a news release from the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Baltimore. Each of the two charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


The charges stem from a July 23 incident in which Johnson allegedly ordered a man at gunpoint to wear what he believed was an explosive device and to carry a second purported explosive device into the bank in a briefcase, according to the release. Johnson allegedly told the man he was going to rob a bank for him and that if he did as directed, the man would not be harmed.

When questioned by law enforcement, the man — who was not identified — told police he'd been operating an unlicensed taxi, known as a "hack," near Lexington Market in Baltimore and picked up an unknown male customer later identified as Johnson, according to the release.

Johnson dropped the victim off at the bank and allegedly directed him to hand a cellphone to a bank employee. At about 4:15 p.m. July 23, a man entered the PNC Bank in the 15000 block of Old Frederick Road near Lisbon, while talking on a cellphone and carrying a briefcase, according to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint. The man then handed the phone to a bank employee and opened the briefcase to show the apparent homemade explosive device.

The bank employee spoke with Johnson, who was already on the phone line, and immediately ordered an evacuation of the bank, according to the release. The suspected robber remained in the bank briefly and was seen on bank surveillance video using a pair of scissors to remove what appears to be another explosive attached to his body with duct tape, according to the news release.

The man then left the bank, noticing Johnson was no longer in the parking lot. Fearful Johnson would return, the man walked across the street and waited for police to arrive, and surrendered to the authorities, according to the release. Police found the victim's vehicle, a gold Hyundai Elantra, parked near the Woodbine Inn a short time later.

Roads around the bank were temporarily closed as bomb technicians confirmed the alleged explosive devices were not dangerous. An examination by the FBI Crime Lab found that the devices were carefully designed and constructed to look like actual explosive devices, according to the release.

Law enforcement developed Johnson as a suspect through phone records, cell site analysis and City Watch surveillance video, according to Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. District Attorney's Office. Howard County police and the FBI assisted in the investigation.

It is unclear whether Johnson has an attorney, and a phone number to reach him for comment could not be located by 1 p.m. Friday.