Florida

They came for a man accused of fathering a 14-year old's baby. They found something more

James McArthur Johnson III
James McArthur Johnson III

When the Polk County Sheriff's Office showed up to arrest 33-year-old James McArthur Johnson last week for twice impregnating a teenager, they knew they might run into heroin, methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana dealer.

That also happened to be James McArthur Johnson of Winter Haven, the sheriff's office says. That's why Johnson has been charged with 84 counts of 10 crimes and sits in Polk County Jail on $403,000 bond.

To break down Johnson's charges, there's one count of these crimes: sexual activity by a person over 24 with a 16- or 17-year-old victim; a person over 21 impregnating a child under 16; lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 16; armed trafficking in heroin; possession with intent to sell heroin; possession of marijuana with intent to sell; felony possession of marijuana; possession of a structure with the intent of selling drugs; and possession of marijuana.

And 75 counts of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a convicted felon. Johnson was convicted of that in 2010, which, combined with a robbery rap, sent him to Florida prison for 2 1/2 years. A conviction on home burglary and grand theft from $100 to $300 charges put Johnson in the convicted felon category and in prison for 19 months from 2005-07.

All that criminal activity occurred in Polk County. But, according to the arrest reports, a 16-year-old pregnant mother of one brought the Polk County Sheriff's Office back to Johnson's door.

On May 16, Sheriff's Detective Joshua Green began investigating a case involving a 16-year-old pregnant with her second child. Both, she said, were sired by Johnson.

She said they had started having sex when she was 13. That eventually resulted in her pregnancy at 14, by the then-31-year-old Johnson. The report said she told detectives they hid their relationship from her parents by using Winter Haven-area hotels.

For this second pregnancy, she told them the father could be Johnson or some other man in his early 20s who she met on the Tinder-like app PlentyOfFish. (The report doesn’t’ say what she told her parents about the father of her first child).

She suffered a miscarriage on June 7. When she called Johnson on June 20, Green listened from her end. His summary of part of the conversation after they agree to meet in Winter Haven that weekend:

Girl: If we do anything this weekend, I'm not on birth control right now, so we would have to use a condom.

Johnson: OK.

Girl: I just don't want to have sex again and get pregnant and the same thing happening.

Johnson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand that, I understand.

Girl: It's just not the right time for us to have another baby right now, maybe next year or something.

Johnson: Yeah, later down the line.

Girl: Are you depressed about the baby, too?

Johnson: Hell, yeah, that ---- still ---- with me.

Girl: I can't wait 'til we can have our family togerther like we are supposed to.

Johnson: I know, I know. That ---- be stressing me out so much.

Girl: It does me, too. (The 2-year-old) needs her father.

Johnson: And I wanna be there, too, man.

Girl: The 2-year-old needs to see you soon, she misses her daddy.

Johnson: And I miss her, too, man, damn, damn...

James Johnson Corrections mugshot
James Johnson before one of his three Florida prison stints Florida Dept. of Corrections

The girl told cops Johnson dealt drugs from his home and had guns. Two days later, arrest warrant in hand, Polk County Sheriff's Office detectives prepared to pick up Johnson. Samples of police legal maneuvering ensued, as described in the probable cause affidavit.

According to another probable cause affidavit, cops saw a man cycle up to Johnson's front door, get a plastic bag from Johnson as the door burped open and closed, then pedal away. This wasn't reason enough for cops to stop him.

Cycling on the wrong side of the road, however, gave cops the excuse they needed.

"The bicyclist immediately informed me that he had "Tune" (slang term synthetic cannabis) in his front left pocket," PCSO Detective Sergio Sanchez Jr. wrote. "The bicyclist informed me that he had just bought it from a house."

When Sanchez showed the bicyclist a photo of Johnson, the man said, yes, that's who he bought the drugs from in the house.

Another cop saw a black car roll up to Johnson's place and roll away after the driver went inside for five minutes. For this stop, a PCSO sergeant used the darkness of window tint as an excuse to make a traffic stop. The driver said he'd just bought K2, another type of synthetic marijuana, from Johnson.

When Johnson came outside with a friend to sit down in front of his house, he left the front door open. The sheriff's office took that opportunity to arrest Johnson. As for a way to legally search his home ...

"Due to Johnson's extensive criminal history, his recent drug sale transactions and the fact that he had a felony warrant for having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old female, a protective sweep was conducted inside of Johnson's residence to ensure the scene was safe and no other juveniles were inside the home.

"During the protective sweep, Deputy Sheriff Zeigler observed a black semi-automatic handgun in the pocket of a folding chair in view in the master bedroom."

That got PCSO a search warrant. And, the affidavit says, that led to finding a centigram of methamphetamine, 42.3 grams of marijuana, 9.7 grams of heroin, two guns and several rounds of ammunition.

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