OSWEGO, Ill. (STMW) – Two men have been charged with robbing TCF banks inside Oswego and Aurora Jewel grocery stores.

On Friday, Oswego police announced that Joseph “Jo Jo” Prince, 23, 1200 block of Pearl Street, Aurora, and Mason Johnson, 34, of the 1200 block of South Keeler Street, Chicago, were both charged with robbing the TCF bank at 2540 Route 30 in Oswego on Dec. 20, 2010.

A federal indictment filed this week charged Johnson in a bank robbery at a TCF bank at 1270 N. Lake St. in Aurora two days later. The indictment also alleges Prince and Johnson committed a third, similar TCF Bank robbery in Aurora in January 2011.

According to court documents, the Jan. 16, 2011, robbery at the Jewel store at 1157 N. Eola Road was the men’s eventual undoing. An affidavit filed in the case said that at 4:30 p.m. that day, Prince and Johnson were driven to Jewel by another man who was not part of the robbery plot. Prince walked into the bank and handed a note to a teller, while Johnson stood nearby. The note said words similar to: “Give me $5,000. Thank you.” The teller handed over $959 that had a hidden sensor inside it, according to court records. The robbery took a few minutes and neither man ever showed a gun.

Johnson and Prince ran out of the store, but when they got into the car, pink smoke started to come out of Prince’s pocket, a federal affidavit said. The car’s driver kicked the men out of his car, and later found a Blackberry phone in the car with Johnson’s picture on it. Johnson reported the phone stolen the day after the robbery, the affidavit said.

Johnson was arrested on March 8, 2011, in an unrelated incident. When he was arrested, he was wearing a jacket similar to the one seen in the 2011 Aurora TCF robbery.

On March 30, 2011, Prince agreed to talk to police. When he was shown photos of the robbery at the TCF on Eola Road in Aurora, Prince said “you all got me, I ain’t gonna lie”, according to the affidavit. Prince told investigators that Johnson wrote the note on the way to the bank. The money they got was unusable, the affidavit said.

“The money exploded and there was nothing that we could do with it,” Prince said, according to the affidavit.

No further information was provided about how investigators connected Johnson and Prince to the Oswego robbery. An indictment filed in the case said the men got $565 from the Oswego robbery. Police said evidence recovered by Oswego police at the scene and later analyzed by the state crime lab was instrumental in the investigation.

At the time the Oswego TCF Bank was robbed, police were investigating whether it was connected to the Dec. 22, 2010, robbery of the TCF Bank on North Lake Street in Aurora. Johnson was charged with taking $4,044 from the bank in that incident.

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