A former Half Moon Bay police officer charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from the department's officers' association over a two-year period was sentenced this week to 45 days in jail and two years probation after the judge reduced his felony conviction to a misdemeanor
Askia “A.J.” Johnson, 40, was charged with a felony count of embezzlement for allegedly taking $5,700 from the Half Moon Bay Police Department Officer's Association. Johnson, who worked in Half Moon Bay from 2008 to 2010, had always stated that he intended to return the money. In the years following the alleged embezzlement, he paid $4,000 back to the association, according to the District Attorney's Office.
In December, Johnson agreed to a plea deal for one count of felony embezzlement on the condition that he receives no prison time. He was to be sentenced in February for a maximum of 90 days in jail.
But Wednesday Judge Forcum decided to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 17, which is the law that gives the sentencing judge the power to reduce in certain types of cases a felony conviction to a misdemeanor conviction.
“Embezzlement is one of the offenses for which the court has the power to reduce from a felony to a misdemeanor,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
According to the sentence, Johnson does not have to be taken into custody immediately but could delay the start of his 45-day sentence until April 6, 2013. Part of the conditions for his probation includes search and seizure, where a police probation officer can drop by his home or car at any time to conduct a search, and if any evidence of a crime or a violation of probation is found, they may seize it without a search warrant.
Throughout the case, Johnson's attorney had questioned whether Johnson was mentally competent. Following a mental health evaluation in July, he was ordered to stand trial.
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