Gwinnett County

Video showing cashier punched, collapsing before getting robbed was all staged, police say

DULUTH, Ga. — A report of an armed robbery at a Duluth gas station turned into much more when police saw a video of a punch and figured out the whole thing was a fake.

Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson spoke with police who told him two gas station workers were working together in a failed scheme to steal $5,000.

The cashier, Raj Patel, and the supposed robber, Danny Curtis, both now face felony conspiracy charges.

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Cpl. Ted Sadowski said the incident happened on January 21 at the Shell Station on Buford Highway and Old Peachtree Rd.

Duluth Police responded and investigated the alleged armed robbery, but they told Channel 2 Action News that everything captured in the surveillance video was staged.

“The video is crucial,” Sadowski said.

Once police were able to review the surveillance video about a week after the alleged robbery, they saw a fake punch, a careful collapse, and then the supposed robber leaving the gas station with cash. When the alleged victim did start to move again a minute later, police said it took nearly 30 minutes for someone to call 911.

“Hey you alright?” the officer is heard asking on the body camera.

Duluth police showed up and the clerk told him someone with a weapon just knocked him unconscious.


While searching the Shell gas station, the officer spotted someone by the dumpster.

The worker, identified as Danny Curtis, told police he works at the gas station but couldn’t explain why he had a large amount of his cash in his pockets.

“You got cash falling out of your pocket,” the officer said to Curtis.

“Yeah, I got cash, yeah,” Curtis said.

Police treated it like an armed robbery - using every resource - until they arrested and charged both men for allegedly working together to steal $5,000 from the register.

City cameras also captured Curtis changing clothes in the moments after the incident and before speaking with the responding officer, police say. In a later interview with a detective, Curtis admitted to the fake robbery and said Patel coached him on what to do and what to take.

“Academy Awards shouldn’t be given on this one,” Sadowski said.

Patel now has an active warrant for a felony charge. Curtis is currently in the Gwinnett County jail without bond due to previous arrests.

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