Before retiring several weeks ago, Johnson spent the last 15 years of his Montgomery County police tenure working as the department’s radio systems manager. Allegations surfaced last year that he’d been taking equipment from his police office and storing it at his home in Frederick County.
The Montgomery Police Department, soon joined by the Montgomery State’s Attorney’s Office, investigated the claims.
“This was a relatively big investigation,” Johnson’s attorney, Andrew Jezic, said in court. “This involved a lot of energy. They took their time.”
On Dec. 13, Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in office, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors agreed not to seek jail time. Johnson admitted to giving three phones, issued to him by the police, to acquaintances, according to court records.
While prosecutors alleged in court that Johnson had stolen more than $4,000 in electronic equipment found in his home, Johnson’s attorney has long denied there was anything close to that kind of misconduct.
“He was innocent of the other allegations,” Jezic said after court Wednesday.
As part of Johnson’s plea deal, he was required to retire from the police department, according to court records. Jezic said his client already had plans to retire.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Harry Storm said the case appeared to stand in contrast to Johnson’s long career.
“You have accepted responsibility for having this lapse of judgment,” Storm said. “I do believe you are remorseful.”
Storm handed down a sentence of “probation before judgment,” placing Johnson on six months of supervised probation. Storm said that after Johnson completes the 50 hours of community service, Storm would switch his probation to unsupervised status. Under a probation before judgment sentence, Johnson does not stand convicted of a crime, according to Jezic.
In court Wednesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Bryan Roslund acknowledged that the value of the equipment was relatively small but said that Johnson had violated the public’s trust — and in doing so harmed the countless other officers out there doing their jobs correctly.
“Regardless of the size, regardless of what’s involved, it is the principle [that] you took an oath and swore to protect the community, and now you violated that,” Roslund said. “And every other uniformed police officer, even the nonuniformed ones, in Montgomery County, carries that stain.”
Jezic said Johnson gave one phone to his daughter and two phones to his girlfriend’s children. Those phones, Jezic said, had been obtained by the police department as part of their much larger telecommunications plan.