Weapons Charges Dismissed As Riverhead Teacher Pleads Guilty To DWI


A Riverhead Central School District fourth grade teacher pleaded guilty to DWI, and had multiple felony weapons charges dismissed on November 13 in Suffolk County Court, according to a release from the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

The teacher, Joseph N. Johnson, 40, was arrested by Southampton Village Police at about 3:30 a.m. on April 21, 2012, on Hill Street in Southampton Village and charged with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, both felonies, as well as one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and DWI, all misdemeanors.

Police said Mr. Johnson was in possession of a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, despite having previously been convicted of a crime and not having a valid permit.

After reviewing the facts of the case, as well as the laws applicable to the arresting officer’s search of Mr. Johnson’s car and discovery of the pistol, the district attorney’s office determined it “could not sustain the burden of proof necessary to establish the legality of the search,” according to a press release from Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney. Those charges were dismissed.

Mr. Johnson, who was asked to work from home immediately following the incident, was taken off the school district’s payroll on September 25, 2012. Nancy Carney, the superintendent of Riverhead Central School District, wrote in an emailed statement last week that the district has not yet made a decision about Mr. Johnson’s status, opting to wait until after his court proceedings were finished. Ms. Carney wrote that district officials are now considering what to do.

“During the pendency of these considerations, Mr. Johnson will remain administratively reassigned away from his teacher duties and school campuses,” she wrote. Ms. Carney did not respond to multiple attempts to contact her this week seeking further information.

Mr. Johnson will be sentenced on January 8, 2014. A DWI conviction in Suffolk County generally results in a three-year probation sentence.

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