Harford Sheriff's deputy pleads guilty to bribery, resigns

A Harford County Sheriff's deputy accused of taking payments from a Baltimore repossession company pleaded guilty to bribery charges and resigned from his post on Monday, the Harford County State's Attorney's Office said.

Todd E. Johnson, 30, of the 400 block of Bonnett Street in Aberdeen, pleaded guilty to accepting payments in exchange for providing unauthorized access to police databases to Michael Griffin of Final Notice Repossession Company, according to a news release from Harford State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly.

The plea was accepted by Harford District Court Judge Lawrence Lanahan. As part of his plea agreement, Johnson resigned from the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

Johnson has been placed on 36 months of supervised probation. Cassilly said the state would not seek incarceration as a result of Johnson's good record and his cooperation with investigators. Johnson had been sentenced to five years in the Division of Correction and a $1,000 fine, all of which was suspended.

Johnson, a seven-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, was arrested April 18 at his home and was originally charged with bribery, running a theft scheme, willfully distributing a valid National Crime Information Center code and malfeasance in office, according to an earlier news release issued by the Sheriff's Office.

The arrest was the result of a two-month investigation that found Johnson was providing privileged information to the Baltimore-based Final Notice Recovery and Location, in the 4500 block of Curtis Avenue, the news release said.

The investigation into Johnson's activities began when the Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs Unit received a tip a deputy was involved in criminal activity, according to the news release.

According to investigators, for two years Johnson had used his official mobile data computer to run searches on vehicle license plate numbers provided by the repossession company. He also used the NCIC database to look for more information on vehicle owners; such information that is not readily available to towing companies or the general public. In exchange, Johnson received payments for the information, according to the Sheriff's Office.

At the time of his arrest, Johnson was assigned to the Northern precinct, where he worked in the Patrol Operations Division. He was working at the Southern Precinct, however, when the criminal activity occurred, the Sheriff's Office said.

National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, reports, used by police agencies to determine if people arrested in one jurisdiction are wanted in jurisdictions elsewhere in the country, are not permitted to be released to the general public, the Sheriff's Office said when Johnson was arrested.

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