Newberry man with criminal record wants to be sheriff. Is it legal?

  • In US
  • 2023-01-20 10:08:34Z
  • By The Gainesville Sun

A felon with a rap sheet featuring more than a dozen criminal charges is seeking to become the next sheriff of Alachua County.

Tyrone Randy Johnson Jr., of Newberry, filed his campaign paperwork last week to unseat Sheriff Clovis Watson, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office website.

Both are registered Democrats and would face off on an August primary ballot ahead of the November 2024 general election.

Johnson's criminal record, however, could hinder that from happening, as state law doesn't allow felons to hold office or vote until they have their civil rights restored and complete all past sentencing requirements.

Multiple attempts to reach Johnson have been unsuccessful. When calling a number listed on his campaign filing documents, a man answered and said that no one by his name lived there.

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Court records show Johnson has been charged more than a dozen times over 20 years for offenses that include lewd and lascivious battery, indecent exposure in public, child abuse and burglary.

Though some charges were dropped for different reasons, including being unable to locate Johnson during court proceedings, records show he was convicted on some of the more severe offenses and arrested multiple times for violating probation.

He was also convicted for the improper exhibition of a firearm, which state law defines as displaying a weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner that isn't necessary for self-defense.

Illegal bail bonds operations

In October 2016, Johnson was convicted of a third-degree felony for acting as a bail bonds agent despite having his license revoked four years earlier due to prior criminal offenses. He was also convicted of grand theft of a vehicle, a court ruling shows.

Johnson was deemed a "flight risk" who established a pattern of not complying with court orders and frequently missed or showed up late to court proceedings. He was sentenced to more than a year in state prison but was given credit for time served and an additional 42 months of probation. A judge said sending him to the county jail − the one the sheriff oversees − wasn't an appropriate punishment given his track record, adding that he violated probation on several occasions, including multiple times for drug use.

Johnson appealed the sentencing, but a judge rejected it.

"When viewing this case, and the defendant's history, a reasonable person cannot conclude that he will not continue to commit crimes whenever he is released from incarceration," a ruling states. "The criminal justice system has failed to protect the public from the defendant's criminal conduct. It is unclear whether the defendant has the ability to stop his criminal behavior. It is clear to this court that he could present a danger to the public ..."

Just three years later, he was convicted of a misdemeanor for petit theft, court records show.

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Newberry man with criminal record files for Alachua County sheriff


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