Ex-Craig Police Department detective arrested

Former officer Ken Johnson facing felony charges

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The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office is asking anyone with additional information regarding the allegations against former police detective Ken Johnson and Tausha Merwin to call office investigators Matt Harmon at 725-3371 or Joe DeAngelo at 846-6029.

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Ken Johnson

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Tausha Merwin

A former Craig Police Department detective was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant, accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, all felonies.

Ken Johnson, 42, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and booked into Moffat County Jail. He posted bond about 6 p.m. and was released from custody.

Johnson, who had been with the police department for nine years, resigned Sept. 8.

Also arrested in connection with the same investigation was Tausha Merwin, 29, who prosecutors said Johnson had a sexual relationship with.

Merwin was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and booked into jail on a charge of suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant. She posted a $5,000 bond Tuesday afternoon, according to jail records.

Johnson and Merwin's relationship partly took place while he worked with the All Crimes Enforcement Team, an area drug task force, and the Moffat County Drug Court, according to arrest warrant affidavits filed in Moffat County Court.

Merwin had previously pleaded guilty to distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance in 2008, and was a client of the Drug Court because of a previous conviction for possession of a controlled substance.

The affidavits state Johnson knew Merwin was violating terms of her probation by consuming alcohol, warned her of when probation officers planned to visit her home and gave her names of confidential ACET informants, all information she used to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Lastly, prosecutors allege Johnson gave Merwin a laptop computer and equipment owned by law enforcement.

Tuesday's arrests stemmed from an ongoing investigation by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Jeremy Snow, deputy district attorney in the Craig office, said formal charges will be filed in the next few days.

When reached Tuesday afternoon, a police department spokesman said the department had no comment on the Johnson case.

"We have no comment, but we have been cooperating fully with the 14th Judicial District Attorney," commander Jerry DeLong said.

Alleged relationship of Johnson and Merwin

The details of Johnson's alleged relationship with Merwin are discussed throughout the 200-plus pages of court records filed as part of the district attorney's investigation.

According to various statements in the affidavits, their relationship began in 2007 or 2008.

It encompassed at least some of the time Merwin spent under the supervision of Drug Court, as well as time Johnson spent assisting with the criminal trial of a man convicted of kidnapping and assaulting Merwin in September 2007.

James Jerome Barry, who was the only one of four men charged in the kidnapping case to see trial, was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The majority of the evidence of Johnson and Merwin's relationship included in the affidavits comes from more than 15,000 text messages shared between the two, which were obtained from both of their phone records.

Among other things, the text messages included in the affidavit show the two had at least one sexual encounter in the ACET office and were contemplating marriage.

However, Merwin's text messages to others besides Johnson revealed that she had sexual encounters with several people other than the former police detective.

The messages also indicate she used drugs with some of the people she was involved with, other than Johnson.

The affidavits state Johnson knew of at least one of Merwin's other sexual partners, but there is no evidence he knew of her alleged drug use nor that of her partners.

Johnson also intervened in Merwin's drug distribution case when he e-mailed then-District Attorney Bonnie Roesink in June 2008 and asked that Merwin be given a deferred sentence, which was granted.

The affidavits state Merwin's status with Drug Court was "tenuous" after her second drug-related arrest, but a deferred sentence would make her eligible for reinstatement.

Johnson's colleagues in law enforcement became suspicious the two were having a sexual relationship in mid-2008, according to the affidavits.

A report filed by ACET Commander Garrett Wiggins and included in court records states he questioned Johnson about their relationship in summer 2008.

Johnson admitted he was seeing Merwin, Wiggins reported, and said he would not let his relationship interfere with his Drug Court duties.

Wiggins also reported that another ACET officer told him Johnson was sleeping in the officer's basement and bringing Merwin over for all-night visits.

According to Wiggins' report, the other officer had previously been involved in arresting Merwin for distribution of drugs, and he felt his family's safety was jeopardized by Johnson's actions.

Wiggins states he became more concerned about Johnson and Merwin's relationship in January 2009 after it seemed to affect Johnson's work.

Johnson stopped reporting as often to Wiggins and the ACET office, and he did not respond to a message that he was needed for an undercover drug purchase operation, the ACET commander reported.

Wiggins filed a formal complaint against Johnson in March, the affidavits state, which partly prompted an internal police department investigation into Johnson's behavior.

DA probe leads to Tuesday's arrests

The affidavits state the initial Police Department investigation was inconclusive, in part because there was no proof of their relationship, and Johnson and Merwin denied being involved when questioned by police officials.

However, Johnson was reprimanded for transporting Merwin in a department-owned vehicle and suspended for a time without pay, according to the affidavits.

Investigators for the District Attorney's Office began their inquiry into Johnson's behavior in July, after the Colorado State Public Defender's Office began filing motions contesting the use of Johnson as a credible witness in criminal trials, according to affidavits.

The basis of motions from the public defender was that Johnson lied about his relationship with Merwin during the Police Department's investigation, and therefore he could not be considered truthful, the affidavits state.

DA investigators started with Johnson's time at ACET, specifically an incident in which Wiggins thought Johnson falsified reports and deleted evidence against Merwin in her drug distribution case.

All original information in the case since has been restored from the district attorney's records, according to the affidavits.

K.C. Hume, a lieutenant with and information technology manager for the Moffat County Sheriff's Office, first examined the computer equipment and concluded Johnson "probably" manipulated the records.

A final forensic analysis of the computer equipment is pending from the Rocky Mountain Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory in Centennial.

Much of the rest of the investigation was, again, based off the thousands of text messages taken from Johnson and Merwin's phones.

According to the affidavits, Johnson repeatedly subverted the Drug Court's urinalysis requirements for Merwin, provided her with alcohol after tests, and informed her when probation officers would conduct home visits so she could drink undetected.

Throughout their relationship, Johnson also relayed to Merwin through text messages confidential information about law enforcement investigations and the names of several confidential informants, according to the affidavits.

In turn, Merwin texted her contacts in the local drug community the same information, according to the affidavits.

Prosecutors do not know whether Johnson knew Merwin was sharing the information, but it seems likely she actively hindered ongoing drug investigations, according to affidavits.

In one instance, Johnson provided Merwin with a laptop computer he took from the ACET office while it still contained files on drug investigations. The laptop also came with two CDs of surveillance footage from separate drug cases.

It's unclear if Merwin used information from the laptop, but she possessed it until investigators confiscated it from her apartment this month.

Text message conversations also show Merwin began abusing cocaine after she completed Drug Court in February, while she was still on probation for her distribution charge, as well as smoked methamphetamine at least once and took prescription pills, according to the affidavits.

Again, prosecutors are unsure whether Johnson knew of her drug use, but his information seems to have helped Merwin keep her actions and the actions of other drug offenders secret from law enforcement, according to affidavits.

Comments

luvbug 5 years, 2 months ago

Moreinfo- where ever you go there are going to be bad and good, Craig is a really nice community. Alot of different people dont like the police dept & or the DA for different reasons most are because they have delt with them personally or someone they know has, and it was not for good reasons. So dont judge our community on one posting in the paper, look at all the great thigs going on.

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slipknot 5 years, 2 months ago

So now we know why the single comment that accompanied the original story of the white hat's resignation was burned so fast. But, this just proves the general concensus: LEO's in Craig are foul you smell them two states away. If they're clean when they start they're rats when their OJT is complete. Craig and MoCo residents deserve better than that. If this note gets burned that's okay I'll send another but I'll tone it down I've learned my lesson. I wonder how closely this guy was vetted before he was hired, maybe he was blackmailed or forced to pull this stunt, who knows he's damaged goods now in any case.

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oldsage 5 years, 2 months ago

If they find him guilty he is done as a cop. His first mistake was poor career path choices. He should have worked for the DA's office first, so they would cover up his crimes like they have in the past with former employees. And Slip, you are right, if he was not bad when he got here the pervasive stink form the top LEOs down got to him.

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irishbrat 5 years, 2 months ago

I read your first comment before it was removed. Made me wonder how you knew so much. But you knew it, why did the paper remove it? Because you knew the story before them? Interesting.

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melonie barrett 5 years, 2 months ago

always be aware of your surroundings,i gaurantee it was someone that was always by his side that made the rat sing

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trout2k 5 years, 2 months ago

Prayers to those who are suffering. Love is a powerful emotion.

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moreinfo 5 years, 2 months ago

More information PLEASE. I am looking to relocate my 32+/- company to Moffat County. A corrupt Police Department and DA at present location is reason for wanting to relocate.

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moreinfo 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe I should say "was looking". Thanks CDP for changing my comment.

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whatnext 5 years, 2 months ago

This does not apply to all of you, but definitely applies to some. Listening to you makes me embarrassed to be from Craig. You sound like a bunch of hate filled, finger pointing, self-righteous idiots. Anyone who can make an all encompassing judgment on any group of people, as you have done to the Craig PD, is ridiculously stupid. Can you honestly believe everyone, or even most of the people, who work at the police department, are corrupt? That is absurd and you should be ashamed of yourselves. That is like saying all white people are racists; all black people look the same; all Mexicans are drug dealers; or all Germans are Nazis. Think about it.

I suppose none of you have ever been assisted by them while you were waiting for the ambulance? None of your children ever had fun in DARE, received free bicycle safety training, gun safety or any of the many other programs they offer the children in Craig? You have never been devastated after being assaulted or having your house burglarized and had officers help you? How about having the entire law enforcement community drop what they are doing to look for your lost or missing child. Yep, they sound absolutely horrible.

You are probably all druggies and criminals who have hard feelings about being caught. I shudder to think what this town would be like if it were inhabited only by you and we were unlucky enough to not have our officers.

Again, I am ashamed to be associated with the majority of you ungrateful slugs.

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lonelyone 5 years, 2 months ago

ok...the last three posts before GlacierDragon....lol

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justmyview84 5 years, 2 months ago

All I can say is it's sad when someone that can be a better person chooses to continue down the path of self destruction and takes someone like this ex-policeman down with them. Sad how the drugs take over and even after years of people trying to help, they just don't want better. I am more saddened by this than anything, cause it's just a reminder that the drug problem is still running rampant in our small community. It's a hard fact of living anywhere, anyone can make those bad choices. They both deserve to be punished for their wrongdoings, but my question is why has she had so many chances? I know her criminal history is quite large and I wonder if just anybody gets so many chances doing the things that she's done. Maybe if the legal system would have been harder on her for her offenses the past couple of years, maybe this man wouldn't have made the choices he made? I just feel it's not my place to judge, though I'm sure like a lot of people, it's quite upsetting to find someone we thought we could trust with the responsibility of getting the drugs off our streets has now been linked to helping those same people. Very sad!

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Rebelgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

I have worked with the CPD and MOCO SO in the past and there are many good LEO's. You must not forget that Mr. Johnson was not working on the streets which is who many community members deal with. Unfortunatly it seems that all it takes is one or two bad apples to ruin the rep of a otherwise good group of people. LEO's as a whole take a bad rap but they DO come when needed and it is not thier fault when the criminals they try so hard to get off the streets are released by the judicial system. It would be hard for me to deal with what they do and continue to do the job. To see the good I try to do get thrown back in my face and have the community see me as not doing my job. But it seems as more and more people have negative interactions with LEO's the more the majority will hate them regardless of past or future contacts if any.

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GlacierDragon 5 years, 2 months ago

These comments are typical of the comments on newspaper websites everywhere. You get extremes. The internet is a whacko magnet. Moreinfo, you shouldn't use them as the basis for moving your company here or not. I'm a professional online moderator (not for CDP) and I can tell you that happy people are the minority in posting in situations like this. They have no need to vent. It's a neat area to be in, especially if you're a hunter. You should come up here and talk to people and check the place out. THEN make your decision.

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lonelyone 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with the last 3 posts. My kids weren't perfect and we had dealings with the police and the DA's office and we have some bad opinions of them at times but as a whole, they are good people and they attempt to do a good job. I also know a woman who use to live here that was always in trouble for drugs and drinking and every time she got busted she'd cry that they were picking on her and then turn around and do it again. And time and time again I would wonder why they wouldn't haul her butt off to jail like they should have been doing and punish her like they should have been doing and would have if it had been many others in this town. I didn't know this officer nor do I know this woman, but she must have some special powers or he was just a weak man at the time to do this sort of thing. It's sad to hear of an officer do things like this that he knows is wrong. I'm sure that happens more then we realize in bigger cities, but it's hard to deal with in our small town. moreinfo....how do you mean the CDP changed your comment? And if your looking to relocate, Craig isn't a bad place. Sure we have problems now and then, but as a whole community we're darn nice people. Many of us have come from other areas of the country and we've stayed for a long time.......there must be a reason for it???

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irishbrat 5 years, 2 months ago

Rucker, why is it just tmerwin that has to realize her actions? They both knew what they were doing, they are both responsible for their actions and I think they both know that now. I'm not defending anybody or saying one is more wrong or right than the other, I'm just saying it took both of them to make this happen.

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oldsage 5 years, 2 months ago

No way defenders of the indefensible, I have never been arrested, never been jailed, haven't had a traffic ticket in more than a quarter century! I am just a very observant local citizen who has seen the corruption in this county for a very long time. They busted this low level slob like they busted other low level slobs like the deputy who was having sex with the prisoners over at the jail a few years ago and the woman who embezzled the money from the jail commissary, but if a higher level guy like a Grinstead or Jantz did this you would never hear about it. At least while Bonnie Roesink was running things.

Clearly, based on the article, the PD investigation was one of two things. The type that happens when the investigator wants to clear an officer of corruption in which the investigator is also corrupt or the investigator is a lousy, incompetent slob who has been promoted beyond his or her abilities. One or the other, there is no middle ground on this. The investigation conducted by the DA's office was a real investigation into what the officer was doing. Incompetent or corrupt the resulting conclusion about the Craig Police Department's internal investigations is obvious. The Craig Police Department has no credibility! Which is very very sad!!!! There are good people who work there and the loss of credibility damages them too.

It should not be that way, but more and more people distrust LEOs and the LEOs are totally responsible for it from the top down. The buck stops at the Chief! If the PD investigation had nailed this guy the PD might be a little embarrassed but at least the department would have maintained credibility. Now the question is if the investigator is corrupt or merely incompetent?

Moreinfo, you obviously have the Devil you know vs. the Devil you don't know situation. The important thing is when you move to anywhere that the new Devils running things in the new location don't know you so if you keep below their radar you will be ok. There is corruption everywhere and fighting it puts you above the radar.

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CindyLou 5 years, 2 months ago

All I know is it better be an awfully good piece of tail to lose your job, your marriage, your family, and your life over. A couple hundred bucks on west colfax in denver could have netted Mr. Johnson a better piece with less hassle. As my great grand pappy use to say "think before you dink." I wish you the best of luck Ken my boy. Sadly though I think your future will not be very rosie.

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fedup02 5 years, 2 months ago

Oldsage is completely correct. The power of abuse in Craig is rampant. If you don't have money or aren't related to someone in the D.A's office or on the police force, you don't matter. The D.A.'s office is just as corrupt as Johnson. They look the other way whenever it suits them. If someone they are friends with or are related to gets upset with someone that is a law abiding citizen, they will find any trumped up charges. And with Ken Johnson, he has been getting away with more than just what he is charged with here. Look at Kayla Steele. Her last name is Steele, she broke her parole how many times? And he did whatever he could to make sure she wasn't busted. She has a relative in the D.A.'s office, again she gets by doing what other people would be sent to prison for. I could name so many other names. In Craig, it isn't what you do or how you live your life, it is who you know. That town has the most corrupt system I have ever seen. I no longer live there for that reason.

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melonie barrett 5 years, 2 months ago

a simple zipper being kept closed would of stopped all this

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slipknot 5 years, 2 months ago

interesting the way this discussion went. To irishbrat, I didn't write the initial comment that was burnt on this guy when he resigned. I'm just reading between the lines and drawing my own conclusions. As far as corruption being wide spread in MoCo and Craig LEO's you all have to remember the bell curve. My family and I left when some of the Sheriff's finest were beating their wives, and boinking the secretarys and it appeared that they were getting away with it.
I'm Fed LO in another state now, and I do have some sympathy for the guy that's going down, because you don't know why or what made him pull this stunt.

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Tmerwin 5 years, 2 months ago

WOW!!! I want to give my personal thanks to the investigators who worked so hard to dig up all this dirt on me!!! GOOD JOB!! how is it anyones business who I have had sex with outside of the scope of the relationship of myself and Ken Johnson. I am not on drugs and its pretty interesting to see how they had to fancy up there whole story with talk about mine and kens personal life and make a big juicy story for the front page. If you think none of those people have dirt under there rugs, you might want to stay tuned to this one!!!!!!!!!! an honest thankyou to the people who truely know me and are supporting me durring this time!!!

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Rucker 5 years, 2 months ago

to tmerwin, you realize your actions with Mr Johnson has almost destroyed that family right?Luckily they are strong people. My condolences to the rest of that family while they deal with this ordeal. no family should ever have to go through this. also, might be pretty hard ms merwin to get out of this without mr johnson throwing you get out of free jail cards anymore.

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catwoman 5 years, 2 months ago

I have several comments in regards to your comments. To "fedup02", who is Kayla Steele related to in the DA's office? And what parole violations did she break? It's my understanding she got her parole extended not reduced. Maybe you need to get your facts straight. To "moreinfo", if you can make your decision regarding moving your company here based solely on the opinions of bloggers we don't want you in our community anyway. Get a well rounded opinion before you make your decision. To "luvbug", "whatnext84", "justmyview", "Rebelgirl", "GlacierDragon", and "lonelyone", thank God for people like you! NO LE agency or DA office is completely corrupt. Just because there is "one bad egg" doesn't mean the other eleven are rotten. In fact they may be the best eggs you have ever had. Think about it!!! Do some of you people even think before you write, or are you just so frustrated with your menial, trivial, little lives that you have let your frustrations out wherever you can. I only hope one of those "corrupt" LE officers are just around the corner the next time you or yours are at risk of being harmed or worse. To "Tmerwin", you either need to buy a dictionary or get spell check! Your spelling and grammar SUCK, and you lose any credibility you had (which isn't much after reading the article!) when you can't even spell. And doubt you have been charged with anything that can't be proven in a court of law, though sounds like you might be the expert on that one as many times as you have been there.

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justice4all 5 years, 2 months ago

If Joe Deangelo was the investigator with the 14th Judicial DA's office, this case will probably never get to trial. I have PROOF that he has removed statements from case files and replaced them with very different statements to cover for the thief. He then assisted this person in getting a job with the Moffatt Co Sheriff Office. He has even told suspects that he is an attorney and discouraged or prohibited them from seeking council. See in internet search "JOE DEANGELO, Ft. WAYNE, INDIANA POLICE OFFICER", and see if you are comfortable knowing that this is what we have in our DA's office. Sure makes us wonder who we can trust. Sure is not DeAngelo or DA Jeremy Snow. They were equal participants in this case. Stand by for the Colorado Attorney General to be involved.

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countrylocal 5 years, 2 months ago

Thank you to all our law enforcement officers- from top to bottom. I know many of you and feel safe at night (and day) knowing you are helping to keep our streets safe. Yes there are a few bad eggs in every carton, but overall we have a wonderful force-sheriff's, PD, state patrol and the court system. I feel very saddened to know Mr. Johnson has let an infatuation destroy his career and life, for whether he is innocent or guilty, this will haunt him forever. As for those of you complaining- I would say one thing- you can either be part of the solution or part of the problem, I have yet to see complaining with no action accomplishing anything.

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justmyview84 5 years, 2 months ago

wow how bold of you TMerwin to step out and try to defend yourself. Though I doubt it's going to do any good seeing as now the suspicions of the people who were wondering about you and kenny boy are coming to light, plus now the whole town sees what kind of person you truly are. Not the one doing COMA fund-raising and trying to help people be better!!. too bad it didn't go the other way. You could have let him help you be a better person, but it's typical right? Only those of us who wanted to change did, and only those who don't want to change keep getting in trouble!! There is always time to change though so I will keep you in my prayers.. very sad indeed.

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mustang 5 years, 2 months ago

I have to agree with some of the comments above. One bad apple should not destroy the reputation of the entire law enforcement. I have worked with the law enforcement many times and have always been thankful for their help and the safety that they have provided. Tbe decisions of Mr. Johnson were wrong and corrupt and I think it is great that he is going to be held accountable for the things which he has done. Cindylou, your comment rings true all to often and I am sure that you have learned first hand how things like this can destroy a persons life, marriage and family.

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speech_geek 5 years, 2 months ago

How about everyone on this forum get a life and stay out of Mr. Johnson's and Miss Merwins business. People make mistakes, don't act like your perfect. They are both adults, if they want to sleep together, LET THEM!!!! How would you like it if someone was talking about your sex life? Huh? I don't see anyone charging Luker, when his wife became a felon!!! Or anything like that. I honestly just think someone got mad at him and drug him through the mud. Good Luck Ken and Tausha!

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Joanna Hatten 5 years, 2 months ago

Ya know geek....I don't care that they had sex....whatever. However, giving away equipment that was bought with tax payer money....?!? AND...sharing confidential info that could help rid Craig of the huge drug problem?!?!? Using a county issued vehicle to play taxi for Ms Merwin?!! Come on!!! And the cherry on top...emailing the district attorney to rally for a light sentence AND helping her evade drug and alcohol test?!? Read the warrant!!! Its posted on the internet!!

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thepatriot 5 years, 2 months ago

These articles make me SICK!!!. Mr. Johnson was in charge of a "VIOLENT CRIME" that took place months ago. Absolutely nothing has been done. Numerous calls to this man went nowhere. He was either out of the office, on call or on vacation. Nothings changed, no reply, NOTHING! Mr. Johnson was handed an open and shut case with witnesses that came forward. This was months ago Still NOTHING! Please remember these criminals are running around Craig. Thanks A lot Mr. Johnson, you put a family at risk. Looks like you had better things to do.

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Tabitha 5 years, 2 months ago

This article makes me UPSET !!! Don't we have enough problems going on in the world that we have to have a problem trusting people with authority? I along with you "thepatriot" have seen people struggle and I too feel that Mr. Johnson has put MANY families at risk. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TOO THAT WE CAN'T TRUST PEOPLE?

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wikkedbear420 5 years, 2 months ago

This isnt the first time cops in moffat county or craig have been crooked. I remember when I was really bad into the drug problem there was an officer in craig that would bust folks with meth give them a verbal warning and turn around and resell the crap from the trunk of his PATROL VEHICLE!! Yes I know this for a fact...does it honestly surprise anyone? You know those shows on tv bout cops helping bring drugs into the community to get more cash in their pockets dont really lie...its absolutly true there are no just cops, DA, or judicial system anymore and its not just craig CO its EVERYWHERE...PLEASE if you dont believe me go to http://thezeitgeistmovement.com/ and take the time to watch both movies...everyone would do some good to learn what the american government is really bound to do for us. But I also agree that the batch of apples aint so bad quite a few of the officers here in craig I like and ask for help from when needed because they arnt out for a good name but to be GOOD COPS for once.

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