Legal troubles dogged Johnson in '01 and '02

By Lawrence Smith | Apr 18, 2008

CHARLESTON – Along with his recent conviction for attempting to operate a meth lab in Pocahontas County, court records show Jody Ray Johnson was convicted in 2001 for obstructing a police officer, and defaulted on a credit card and loan the following year.

On March 28, Johnson pled guilty to one count of information that he attempted to operate a clandestine laboratory on Nov. 10 in Marlinton. Court records show that on April 9 he was given a 1- to 3-year prison sentence on the charge.

According to court records, Johnson's guilty plea came one week after he was indicted on similar charges in Kanawha County. On March 21, a grand jury charged Johnson with two counts each of conspiracy to operate a clandestine laboratory and exposing children to methamphetamines on March 24, 2007, and operating a clandestine laboratory on Oct 6, 2006.

At his arraignment on April 3, Johnson entered a not guilty plea. Currently, his trial is slated for July 15.

About seven years prior to his Pocahontas conviction, Johnson was charged in Kanawha Magistrate Court for obstructing a police officer. The charge, records show, stemmed from false information he provided to police about a "stolen" vehicle.

According to court records, Johnson reported that Kelly Ortega Sullivan stole a rental van off the driveway of his home on Jesse Fork Road in St. Albans on Nov. 16, 2001. Kanawha Sheriff's Deputy K. S. Moore filed a stolen vehicle report though he noted both Johnson and his wife, Amanda Jo, gave conflicting statements, and warned Jody about the consequences of making a false allegation.

Later that night, Charleston Police stopped Ortega as he was driving the van, and placed him under arrest. In an interview he conducted with Ortega that night, Moore said he discovered that the Johnson's were involved in some "hokie" deal to frame Ortega with a crime.

"It is unknown what type of 'hokie' deal went down with the rental van, but on thing is for certain, it was not 'stolen' out of the Johnson's driveway of their Jesse Fork Rd. residence on November 16, 2001 between 0130 – 0200 hours, as they reported," Moore said in his Nov. 18, 2001 criminal complaint.

"Instead, the Johnson's were willingly involved in loaning the van or actually renting the van for a Brandon S. Walker, who in turn let Kelly Ortega Sullivan drive the van."

At a bench trial on Jan. 16, 2002, Johnson pled guilty to the charge against him. Court records show Kanawha Magistrate Bill Witherell ordered Johnson to pay a $50 fine, and $130.25 in court costs.

Two months later, the Johnsons found themselves in trouble again. Only this time, court records show, it was for defaulting on credit card and loan payments to BB&T.

According to court records, BB&T filed two civil suits against the Johnsons in Magistrate Court on March 19, 2002. One named Jody individually, and the other named Amanda, with Jody as a co-defendant.

In the one against Jody, BB&T alleged he was in default in paying $938.31 on a bankcard issued to him. In the suit against both Jody and Amanda, BB&T alleged they were in arrears $1,881.04 on a $3007.67 loan they took out on Oct. 2, 2000.

When the Johnson failed to reply to either suit, BB&T asked for default judgment on April 25, 2002. Court records show Magistrates Ward Harshbarger, and Pete Lopez granted the respective requests on May 7 and 13, 2002.

On Jan. 12, 2005, BB&T attempted to collect on the judgment it received against the Johnson for the defaulted loan. According to court records, it filed a writ of garnishment with Amanda's then-employer, the Rite Aid distribution center in Poca, for $2,489.99, the amount of the judgment plus 10 annual interest.

It is not immediately clear what, if anything, BB&T was able to collect from Amanda. However, what is clear that her address at the time was 1427 Scott Dr. in St. Albans, which is three lots up from where the current indictment against Jody says he was operating a meth lab in 2006 and 2007.

About three weeks after Jody was arrested on Oct 6, 2006, on the first meth lab charges, another civil suit was filed against he and Amanda. This time, Autovest was attempting to collect on a debt assigned to it from Fifth Third Bank on a defaulted 2001 loan.

According to court records, the Johnsons secured a loan from Fifth Third on June 23, 2001 to buy a 1999 Chevy S-10 pick-up truck. By Oct. 23, 2006, the date the suit was filed, the Johnsons were in arrears $7,000, including $3,676.18 in interest.

In the compliant and suit, the Johnsons were listed at different addresses, Amanda at Rt. 4, Box 36 B in St. Albans, and Jody at 128 6th Street in Dunbar. The address listed for Amanda is her mother's address, and close to where she and Jody lived at the time he was charged with obstruction in 2001.

Attempts to serve the Johnsons were to no avail as court records show on Oct 25, 2006 her mother said she had remarried, and was now living in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the current occupant at the Dunbar address said Jody moved out nearly two years ago.

On Jan. 31, Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles E. King dismissed the suit because of its inactivity.

Kanawha Magistrate Court, Case Nos. 01-M-13041 (obstructing), 02-C-887, 888 (BB&T)

Kanawha Circuit Court, Case No. 06-C-2287 (Autovest)

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