Donning a mask while committing a crime: pretty common. Facing jail time for doing so: not so much.
But a Temple Hills man was convicted Wednesday in the District of wearing a mask, an act punishable when its worn with the intent of committing a crime.
A jury found Michael Hartley, 21, guilty of assault with intent to commit a robbery, wearing a mask and other crimes connected to an attack at the Rhode Island Metro station on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District.
Prosecutors said Hartley passed a man in the Metro, saying, “hey,” and then turned back around to follow and rob him. Hartley pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and wore a mask over his face. He approached the man he had passed, demanding his iPhone and telling the man he had a gun. When the man refused, Hartley punched him in the face, breaking his glasses and cutting his face. A bystander called police, and officers arrested Hartley at the scene, prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which brought the charges in the case, was previously unable to calculate the frequency with which people are charged with illegally wearing a mask. However, the attorney general’s office — which handles juvenile and misdemeanor cases in the District — has said prosecution under that particular law is rare, with a spokesman recalling only two cases of juveniles facing charges under the law.