Ken Johnson, a former Craig Police Department detective, walks into Moffat County District Court this afternoon for his sentencing hearing. Johnson pled guilty in April to attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony. Check back with www.craigdailypress.com for updates on the hearing.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Ken Johnson, a former Craig Police Department detective, walks into Moffat County District Court this afternoon for his sentencing hearing. Johnson pled guilty in April to attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony. Check back with www.craigdailypress.com for updates on the hearing.

Former Craig police officer sentenced

Ken Johnson gets seven days in jail, two years probation

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Ken Johnson, a former Craig Police Department detective, follows Tausha Merwin on Tuesday into Moffat County District Court for his sentencing hearing. Johnson pleaded guilty in April to attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony. He was sentenced to seven days jail, 53 days work release, 150 hours community service and two years probation.

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Ken Johnson, a former Craig Police Department detective, walks out of the courtroom after sentencing Tuesday at the Moffat County Courthouse.

Ken Johnson, a former Craig Police Department detective, was sentenced Tuesday in Moffat County District Court to serve seven days in jail at the Rio Blanco County Detention Center.

Johnson pleaded guilty in April to attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony, as part of a plea agreement with the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The former detective was also charged with accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, both Class 5 felonies, but those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

The charges stemmed from his alleged relationship with Craig resident Tausha Merwin, who has past convictions for drug distribution and possession.

The plea deal stipulated he could not be sentenced to more than 60 days in jail.

Johnson appeared before judge Shelley Hill.

Hill also sentenced Johnson to 53 days of jail work release, 150 hours of community service and two years probation.

Johnson was ordered to pay $1,766.50 in fines. He will also undergo psychotherapy, DNA testing, and will be required to write letters of apology to the Craig Police Department, Moffat County Drug Court, All Crimes Enforcement Team and the Moffat County community, among others.

Johnson will begin serving his sentence Friday.

“I just want to apologize to the community and anyone else who was affected,” Johnson said, following Hill’s decision.

Johnson’s attorney, Larry Combs, asked Hill to let Johnson serve his sentence in Rio Blanco County.

Jeremy Snow, chief deputy district attorney, did not oppose the recommendation.

However, Snow recommended Johnson serve the full 60 days.

“We are here today in this court, really, because Ken Johnson … violated the public’s trust that the public gives to all law enforcement officers and agencies,” Snow said to the court. “There is a certain public perception that somehow Mr. Johnson has received a slap on the wrist in this case, and quite frankly, that’s not true.

“The reality is that he stands now, after today, convicted of a felony. He will never work in law enforcement again.

“While in fact that is a consequence of this plea agreement, that he will never work in law enforcement again, we feel it is important that the court impose the 60 days in jail as a symbol, I guess, for lack of a better word, of the harm that he has done to this community. As a sign that this cannot be tolerated in this community.”

Combs countered Snow.

“The question becomes, how much incarceration is necessary to cure that harm?” Combs said. “Can it ever be cured by incarceration? And this concept of punishment as a symbol, well, I guess the only punishment we can inflict these days is incarceration.

“But, does that mean anything? Does that accomplish anything? Does that restore some sort of public trust, or are we just doing it because of the symbolism of it and because Ken Johnson was who he was?”

Johnson addressed the court and apologized for “making a bad decision.”

“It was not my intention to break any laws when I refused to be truthful in the participation of an investigation at the police department about my personal relationships,” he said. “I know now that being deceitful was the wrong way to handle it and again I apologize.

“I would like you to know that I have been continually punished in this matter by either myself or outside influences. Every day I think about what has happened.”

Judge Hill addressed Johnson before sentencing him.

“Both attorneys commented on the higher standard that is expected of public officials,” she said. “You know that’s true and you have lived your entire professional life knowing that is true. There is a higher standard for you as a police officer … and you violated that trust in a big way.”

Johnson resigned from the police department in September 2009, and was arrested later that month and charged.

Johnson allegedly provided Merwin with information about ongoing law enforcement investigations and helped her violate probation during his time as a police officer.

He also allegedly gave her a laptop computer and other equipment used by ACET.

ACET Commander Garrett Wiggins attended the sentencing. Afterward, he said he was “glad it is all over with.”

“I still think it sends a message that he is being held accountable,” he said.

Wiggins said he hopes Johnson will learn from his mistakes and “go on and become a better and more productive citizen of society.”

Merwin, a Craig resident, is also charged with attempting to influence a public servant.

She pleaded not guilty Feb. 17, and is scheduled to appear July 12 in district court for a jury trial. The trial is scheduled for four days.

According to court records, Merwin allegedly lied to police officials about her alleged relationship with Johnson.

Comments

Joanna Hatten 3 years, 10 months ago

What a stupid picture Craig Daily press. Seriously? Were you camped outside that room with your camera in hand..zoomed in and ready?!?! I'm sure whos ever breast that is that you got on the side of the picture thanks you too!!! Good grief...take some photography classes!

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mandmspegs 3 years, 10 months ago

{Law Enforcement Oath of Honor} "On my Honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution, my community and the agency I serve".

INTEGRITY, is being the same person in both private and public life. CHARACTER, means the qualities that distinguish an individual. ACCOUNTABILITY, means that you are answerable and responsible to your office.

OMG, where did Moffat County get this Shelley Hill?!! Are you kidding me! What an atrocity for all citizens and the whole judicial system as we know it. And that Larry Combs, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. He is as embarrassing as Ms Hill. Juveniles are dealt harsher sentences than what Mr. Ken Johnson was handed! And I mean handed. Did they hold his hand when the sentence came down. It is just WRONG!

I am appalled and disgusted for the lack of professionalism all the way around with all parties involved. Shame on all of you. Give me back Western Justice. Craig is in dire need!!!

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Rebelgirl 3 years, 10 months ago

Go figure another crime committed and another slap on the wrist. If the people that are supposed to uphold the law can't abide by it, then get caught breaking the laws and in the end are not held responsible then why should anyone follow the law. No wonder people aren't afraid of the justice system in America. We truely are home of the free, committ a crime and then go free. In Grand Junction three officers were fired for trashing a homeless camp. What if the cases he was involved in are retried and the criminals are released because of this mans stupidity?? Mr. Johnson should be held to a higher punishment for what he did.

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justthefacts 3 years, 10 months ago

Que sera sera, Whatever will be,WILL BE!!!

The foregone fact, of Just The Facts

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carn 3 years, 10 months ago

mandmspegs, why is Larry Combs embarrassing? He was the defense attorney.

Considering the other players here (Snow, Hill), he is the only one that actually did his job!

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greeneyedgirl73 3 years, 10 months ago

Seriously, Tausha ... is that really the attire you sat in the courtroom with ... ponytail and grey Tshirt??? Show some respect! Class act Ken ... hope it was worth it.

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mandmspegs 3 years, 10 months ago

Carn, Larry Combis is an embarrassment! He was quoted, "The question becomes, how much incarceration is necessary to cure that harm? Can it ever be cured by incarceration? And this concept of punishment as a symbol, well, I guess the only punishment we can inflict these days is incarceration". Do ya think!! He can't be publicly displayed and flogged! Our courts, most of them anyway, adhere to the concept of incarceration. " You do the crime, You do the time". What a poor choice of the word cure, that Mr. Combs used. Incarceration is meant as a deterrent. There is no cure for Mr. Johnson. He is what he is.

Another of his quotes, "But does that mean anything? Does that accomplish anything"? You betcha!

He goes on to say, "Does that restore some sort of public trust or are we doing it because of the symbolism of it and because Ken Johnson was who he was?" It works for me! The badge that Ken Johnson used to wear, symbolized law and order and to uphold them. He disgraced it. It is not alright for me with the attitude of "Do as I say, Not as I do" after the fact.

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obamasucks 3 years, 10 months ago

WHAT A JOKE!!! to bad he wasn't a teenager he would of got 5 yrs 4yrs probation 1000hrs community service court costs and more fines butttt since he was a craig good ole boy at one time he basically gets a timeout and to show how smart she is she pleads not guilty and says she never had an affair with him and then shows up in court with him BRILLIANT!! more tax payers money well spent on a jury trial for her PLEASE

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Tmerwin 3 years, 10 months ago

Dear greeneyedgirl73, should I be so upset by your comment about my clothes that I run off and cry? poor you with nothing else to worry about. The interesting part is that unlike you who have so much time on your hands, I work for a living instead of sit on my ---- on the computer. I was not in the court room to impress you or anyone else. I was there supporting MY BOYFRIEND on my lunch break. I usually dont intertain anything anyone says about us on this forum because most of you are only assuming you know the whole strory because its what you saw in the paper or heard from a friend. Some one told me this comment was on here and I couldnt stop laughing at your ignorance. Speaking of ignorance, just the other day a woman at wal mart decided to jump out from beside her car at me when I approached MY vehicle in the parking lot. It seems she had thought she saw me with her niece at a kindergarten graduation, When infact I was with my niece who looks much the same. The woman was screaming the F word at me saying she would kill me if I ever talked to her family. She is so worried about me being around her family who I give a ----- about, and the whole time Im lookin at her all I can see is that she is wearing ridgeview elementary staff badge around her neck. Good job!!! thank god my kid doesnt go to ridgeview. Nice to have people like her around children and im the one under the gun??? Get a life craig. The best is yet to come.

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twin2175 3 years, 10 months ago

Tausha, You and your boyfriend should go away to prison for a long time. Both of you have done nothing but disgrace this community and our legal system. You say that you have a job and work for a living; well, most of us do the same thing. The biggest difference is that we do not sell drugs, doing drugs, partake in illegal activities, and are functioning citizens in the community. You, on the other hand, have been arrested, been involved in many illegal activities (some relating to your boyfriend and the betrayal of the police department), and your mother has custody of your child. I hope that they sentence you to a long time in prison away from here.

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