(01/07/2006)
Former Calhoun magistrate Stephen Johnson did not appear in court yesterday morning before Judge David Nibert regarding revocation of his probation.

Johnson has been on probation since 2003 for stealing about $4,000 from his office.

Johnson's attorney David Karickhoff told Judge Nibert that Johnson fully intended to appear at the hearing, but was having car trouble, he is currently living in Virginia.

Calhoun prosecuting attorney Matt Minney told the court he was frustrated over Johnson's failure to appear. "He is a former law officer and magistrate, and knows the importance of this hearing," he said, indicating he had time to make arrangements to appear.

Minney indicated Johnson has not fulfilled the terms and conditions of his probation, including failure to make restitution for the money he stole, his failure to do his community service hours, and possibly other infractions.

Appearing in court for the state was probation officer Patsy McCartney.

In lieu of being ordered directly to jail, Judge Nibert ordered a $5,000 cash bond which Johnson must pay within seven days. The revocation issue is being continued until January 23.

Johnson's attorney Karickhoff asked Judge Nibert to be excused as his attorney, suggesting Johnson could be eligible for a court appointed attorney.

Karickhoff withdrew his request after Judge Nibert said it was currently impossible to determine Johnson's financial status.

Johnson was sentenced to three years probation three years ago, after pleading guilty to stealing $1000 from office funds.

A plea deal required Johnson to deliver 200 hours of community service a year, in addition to attending one meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous a week. Judge Nibert also indicated Johnson should seek counseling for a drinking problem since "alcohol was a factor."

He was also ordered to pay $954.00 in restitution, having already re-paid most of the money back. The special prosecutor said Johnson made significant restitution, indicating about $3000 had been paid back.

Prosecutor Minney said yesterday that Johnson had not repaid the $954.

The plea arrangement was made after probation officer Patsy McCartney said Johnson committed a non-violent crime and did not have a prior record.

Prosecutor Schulenberg said Johnson "Held a position of public trust and he breached that trust," but said incarceration was not in order. The probationary conditions will allow him to be held accountable in the public eye.

Judge Nibert told Johnson if he failed to follow the special and "usual and customary terms of probation," the court reserved the right to incarcerate him for 120 days.

Johnson's office was audited by the West Virginia State Auditor's Office at the request of the West Virginia Supreme Court. Discrepancies surfaced about October, 2001, after which Johnson resigned and moved to South Carolina.

- 10/5/2001 Magistrate Steve Johnson Resigns

- 4/12/2002 Magistrate Johnson Yet To Be Charged

- 8/27/2002 Former Magistrate Johnson Pleads Guilty

- 11/22/2002 Johnson Pre-Sentence Hearing Postponed

- 1/14/2003 Former Magistrate Given Probation


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