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Fla. Cop Suspended for Using Cruiser to Meet Mistress

Aug. 10--An oft-disciplined Jacksonville cop has been suspended for 20 days for driving his police car to out-of-county trysts with his mistress, according to an internal investigation.

Officer Daniel P. Johnson, 41, also improperly used his police computer to check on a firefighter whom the mistress, Kelly Brown, had been dating as their six-year affair was ending last year, the investigation found. Johnson also wrote two traffic warnings for Brown to use as an excuse for being late for work.

Johnson, a 15-year veteran paid more than $60,000 annually, forfeited 20 days of leave to satisfy the suspension, police said. He is currently assigned to desk duty.

Brown, 41, told investigators she had repeated sex with Johnson when he visited her home while either on-duty or working a second job using his patrol car. Johnson denied those allegations and investigators said there was insufficient evidence to prove them.

But Johnson admitted driving his patrol car twice to Crescent Beach to rendezvous with Brown last summer, the report said. Johnson told investigators he had no other way to get to Crescent Beach and did so without a supervisor's permission.

"I reluctantly drove it," Johnson told investigators.

Johnson describes Brown in the report as a vindictive woman who lied about parts of their relationship to hurt him. But Brown, a former police dispatcher, told The Times-Union Johnson had been lying to her about his marriage turning bad and that the investigators should have believed her entire story.

"I told the truth," Brown said.

Johnson did not return messages left by the Times-Union at his home or on his wife's cell phone.

The investigation began Dec. 30 after Brown reported the affair to the Sheriff's Office. Brown said she went to police after Johnson's wife sought an injunction for protection against her two weeks earlier. The wife alleged she and Brown had a shoving match at Brown's home and that Brown was a threat to her and the Johnson's two children, court records show. Brown told the Times-Union Johnson's wife threatened her.

The injunction was granted in mid-December and remains in effect. Johnson's wife had known about the affair since 2009, court records show.

Brown said the affair began in 2004 and included encounters at Brown's Riverside home while Johnson was patrolling in the area or working off duty at a Riverside bank, Brown said. She said they also once had sex on the side of the road after he picked her up while working another off-duty job.

Brown said she also had sex with Johnson while riding with him as a civilian observer from 2007 to 2009. She said he would take her home, have sex and then return to duty, the report said.

Johnson told investigators he visited Brown's home between calls or during meal breaks, but insisted they never had sex then. Johnson told investigators he knew driving to Crescent Beach in his patrol car "was a bad idea," the report said.

Johnson said he used his police computer to learn about Brown's boyfriend because he wanted know what he looked like and didn't intend to confront him.

Administrative charges of improper conduct, misuse of computer software and falsifying an official document were sustained against Johnson. Three other charges were not sustained. The Sheriff's Office never referred the case to prosecutors for review, said Chief Assistant State's Attorney Dan McCarthy.

Police records show Johnson has previously been given written reprimands for unbecoming conduct, incompetency and improper action. He has received formal counseling for three complaints of improper action, two for incompetency and once for failure to conform to work standards.

Sheriff John Rutherford said he was disturbed by the latest case against Johnson, but added that neither the level of Johnson's prior discipline nor the charges sustained against him called for termination.

"I can only discipline officers for breaking laws and general orders," Rutherford told The Times-Union. "I can't enforce morals upon them for their marital issues."