Johnson pleads guilty |

Johnson pleads guilty

Ex-detective faces up to 2 months in jail

Brian Smith

Ken Johnson

Former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson reached a plea agreement Tuesday with the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Johnson, who

was also a member of the All Crimes Enforcement Team, was charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony, and accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, Class 5 felonies.

Johnson pleaded guilty in Moffat County District Court to Count 1, attempting to influence a public servant.

The other felony charges are to be dismissed.

A sentencing hearing was set for June 8.

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As part of the plea agreement, Johnson cannot be sentenced to more than 60 days in jail. Terms of probation have not been finalized.

"We think the plea is a benefit to the community," said Jeremy Snow, chief deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office. "In entering this plea, he gives up his right to appeal any findings of a jury trial, which ultimately means that by entering a plea, this ensures finality.

"The community isn't going to be drug through this two or three times, possibly. Therefore by entering finality we can move forward and put this behind us."

According to court records, Johnson "unlawfully and feloniously attempted to influence" Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta, and commanders Jerry DeLong and Bill Leonard during an internal investigation.

Prosecutors allege Johnson's actions were by "means of deceit" with the intent to affect decisions or actions.

Johnson resigned from the Craig Police Department in September 2009, and was arrested later that month and charged.

The charges stem from Johnson's alleged relationship with Craig resident Tausha Merwin, who has past convictions for drug distribution and possession.

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

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

Judge Shelley Hill originally set the case for a jury trial beginning May 24, but that trial has been vacated.

Merwin, a Craig resident, is also charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony.

She pleaded not guilty Feb. 17.

Merwin is scheduled appear July 12 in district court for a jury trial. The trial is expected to take four days.

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

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