LIMA — A Lima man charged as a major drug offender professed his innocence Wednesday during an appearance in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Michael Johnson, 53, was among more than a dozen men identified by authorities as “large-quantity” dealers of cocaine and crack cocaine to be arrested during early-morning raids throughout Lima on June 14. The raids, carried out by local and federal law enforcement officials, were conducted in coordination with what officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation termed a “long-term, multi-jurisdictional investigation” into large-scale drug trafficking in Allen and area counties.
Johnson was indicted by an Allen County grand jury on a charge of possession of cocaine, a first-degree felony with a major drug offender specification that alleges he possessed a bulk amount of cocaine in excess of 100 grams. The charge also includes the forfeiture of $4.492 and seven firearms: two .38 caliber revolvers, two 12-gauge shotguns, a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, a .38 caliber handgun and a .32 caliber semi-automatic handgun.
Johnson is also charged with six counts of having a weapon under disability, felonies of the third degree.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Thines placed on the official record Wednesday a plea deal that called for Johnson to plead guilty to the possession charge and all specifications, in addition to one count of having a weapon while under disability. The remaining counts would be dismissed. Thines said the plea deal would remain open until Oct. 15, two weeks before Johnson is scheduled to stand trial.
A similar deal had been offered to Johnson previously and was rejected.
Prior to the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Johnson asked to address Judge David Cheney.
“I am falsely accused of these crimes,” the defendant said. He asked the judge for a reduction in bond that would allow him to leave jail and raise money to hire a new attorney. Cheney denied that request.
Johnson told the judge, “I’m not trying to flee; I’m trying to fight these charges the best I can. The deal offered to me today sounded pretty good if I was guilty … but I’m not.”
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.