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Former officer takes deal for embezzlement
December 27, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

The former Half Moon Bay police officer accused of stealing $5,700 from the Police Officers Association accepted a plea deal yesterday that will land him 90 days in jail for felony embezzlement.

The settlement means Askia Mohammed Johnson, 40, will not stand trial for allegedly making 36 separate withdrawals from the POA account between 2008 and 2010 while serving as its head. Instead, Johnson will receive the three-month term when formally sentenced Feb. 6.

"It’s a pretty good deal for Mr. Johnson,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. "For the amount he took this is the range of time he would receive. Of course, there is always the philosophical question of whether a police officer should be held to a little bit higher standard.”

Johnson, who previous pleaded not guilty to all charges, has said publicly the money was a loan similar to those taken by other officers while he was president of the POA.

Johnson has repaid approximately $4,000, Wagstaffe said.

Last year, Johnson’s criminal prosecution took another turn when his former defense attorney questioned the former officer’s ability to aid in his own defense. Johnson actually objected to the attorney’s request for mental evaluations but a judge opted to halt criminal proceedings until the matter was resolved. Once court-appointed doctors deemed Johnson competent, proceedings were reinstated and Johnson replaced his attorney.

Johnson is free from custody on his own recognizance.

Defense attorney Richard Keyes did not return a call for comment.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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