Feds bust 'Detroit Vice' caper starring Donnie Johnson

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — The name was Donnie Johnson and he said he was vice. 

Prosecutors, however, say he was a fake cop, like the one played by actor Don Johnson in the '80s TV show "Miami Vice." But according to a new case unsealed Wednesday in federal court, the robbery and the victim were real.

Donnie Johnson Jr.

Johnson, 29, was charged following a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigation into a March 2019 armed robbery in Detroit.

A victim called Detroit police after being robbed in front of his house. The victim had spotted a black Chrysler 300 outside his home, approached the driver and a passenger and asked who they were.

"The police," they said.

The victim got in his car and drove away. Minutes later, there were blue and white lights flashing in his rear view.

The victim "stopped his vehicle believing he was being pulled over by law enforcement," ATF Special Agent Dionte Doris wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court.

Johnson and an unidentified person approached the victim's car and handcuffed him, according to the affidavit.

"Johnson was dressed in all black, wearing a black winter skull cap and wore a black badge holder with a chain around his neck," the ATF agent wrote.

Johnson stole $1,350 from the victim and started to leave, according to the affidavit

The victim asked for his money.

"Johnson, while seated in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, pointed a firearm at (the victim) while leaving the area," the agent wrote.

Johnson was arrested the next day at his Detroit home. Investigators found handcuffs in his pants before Johnson started to speak. He said the victim lived in a "dope house."

"People know that I don’t just rob pedestrians, regular working people," he said, according to the affidavit. "I stick to the street s---."

He told investigators he used Amazon.com to buy items to impersonate police officers, including lights and badges, according to the ATF agent.

"But the security guard badges ain’t have s--- on 'em," Johnson said, according to the affidavit. "I had one security guard badge that I borrowed from somebody."

Christopher Proe

A lawyer for Johnson was not identified in federal court. If convicted, Johnson faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Johnson is the second person accused of impersonating law enforcement officers and charged with a federal crime in recent weeks. Christopher Proe of Redford Township is awaiting trial after prosecutors say he carried a loaded weapon while pretending to be an undercover ATF agent.

After Johnson's comments, investigators approached the victim again in March.

The victim admitted selling cocaine to a man known as "Duke" earlier on the day of the robbery. The victim believes "Duke" set him up to be robbed by Johnson, according to the affidavit.

The victim told investigators he spoke to Johnson after the robbery. Johnson said "Duke" told him the victim had two kilograms of cocaine at his home.


Twitter: @RobertSnellnews