Officer Takes Plea Deal for Felony Embezzlement Charges

Source: The Daily Journal

The former Half Moon Bay police officer accused of stealing $5,700 from the Police Officers Association accepted a plea deal yesterday that will land him 90 days in jail for felony embezzlement.

The settlement means Askia Mohammed Johnson, 40, will not stand trial for allegedly making 36 separate withdrawals from the POA account between 2008 and 2010 while serving as its head. Instead, Johnson will receive the three-month term when formally sentenced Feb. 6.

“It’s a pretty good deal for Mr. Johnson,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. “For the amount he took this is the range of time he would receive. Of course, there is always the philosophical question of whether a police officer should be held to a little bit higher standard.”

While it may be a good deal for Mr. Johnson, it’s a pretty bad deal for the ‘taxpayers.’ First, their money was stolen to be used however public officials see fit. Then, a police officer took the stolen money for his own personal gain. Now, taxpayers are forced to pay more money for this man’s court proceedings, as well as ‘housing’ and shelter for the next three months. Any way you look at it, those forced to pay for this absurdity lose.

Johnson, who previous pleaded not guilty to all charges, has said publicly the money was a loan similar to those taken by other officers while he was president of the POA.

In other words, the money stolen from you and me is not just being used for Johnson’s personal gain, but other officers’ as well.

Johnson has repaid approximately $4,000, Wagstaffe said.

Last year, Johnson’s criminal prosecution took another turn when his former defense attorney questioned the former officer’s ability to aid in his own defense. Johnson actually objected to the attorney’s request for mental evaluations but a judge opted to halt criminal proceedings until the matter was resolved. Once court-appointed doctors deemed Johnson competent, proceedings were reinstated and Johnson replaced his attorney.

Johnson is free from custody on his own recognizance.

It’s unfortunate that public officials think they have the right to prevent you and I from spending our money as we wish – or rather, force us to spend our money as they wish. I would certainly not voluntarily pay for these things.