State

Tow truck driver admits stealing from staged car

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A southwestern Illinois tow truck driver faces up to 15 years in federal prison now that he's admitted stealing from a car investigators set up to look like a stolen and abandoned vehicle.

Forty-seven-year-old Eddie Johnson Jr. of Cahokia pleaded guilty Thursday in East St. Louis to charges of theft or conversion of government property and lying to the FBI and to a federal grand jury.

Authorities say the FBI planted a Mercedes in East St. Louis and called a local tow company in February 2011. Authorities say Johnson hauled the car away and later stole diamond rings, a purse, some cash and a debit card from it as video cameras secretly recorded the theft.

Johnson also faces up to $750,000 in fines when sentenced Feb. 22.

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