FORT EDWARD — Washington County prosecutors are reviewing all of the prison contraband cases that involved a state investigator who was arrested recently for allegedly falsifying evidence logs.
The county District Attorney’s Office prosecutes dozens of cases a year that originate from the state prisons in Fort Ann — the Great Meadow and Washington correctional facilities.
One of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision investigators who was involved with a number of those cases in recent years was charged Tuesday with felony counts of second-degree forgery and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and petit larceny for his alleged mishandling of drugs and other evidence that were seized from prison visitors and inmates over more than a year.
Instead of transporting them to Albany for safekeeping them as evidence, Todd C. Johnson, 55, of South Glens Falls, is accused of keeping them at his home temporarily, and then claiming overtime for having logged them in as evidence. The evidence included witness statements, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, Suboxone (prescription drug) strips, drug paraphernalia and packaging and small weapons.
The petit larceny charge alleges he received overtime payments to which he wasn’t entitled, amounting to less than $1,000.
Johnson was a senior investigator in the DOCCS Office of Special Investigation’s division of narcotics investigations, and was involved in dozens of investigations at the Washington County prisons during his 20-plus years with the agency.
He retired when the discrepancies were uncovered.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said DOCCS notified his office about the situation earlier this year, and his office had two pending cases at the time in which Johnson was involved in the investigation.
He said his office declined to prosecute one under the circumstances, and in the other a prison visitor who was caught with drugs had already pleaded guilty. The woman’s defense lawyer was notified of the investigation, and she opted to accept a “favorable” plea deal that included probation instead of a jail or prison term that is typically sought for prison contraband cases.
State officials said there were 53 cases identified at prisons around the North Country where Johnson did not follow the proper evidence chain of custody and allegedly falsified documents, and Jordan said his office was trying to get more information as to whether there were any other problems regarded evidence handling of Washington County investigations.
“We were made aware that the issue existed and we are trying to find out whether there were any other cases,” Jordan said.
Whether Johnson’s alleged crimes would affect any prior convictions was unclear, he added.