A one-time top aide and longtime confidante to Gov. David Paterson was arrested this morning on misdemeanor assault charges in connection with the domestic violence allegations that became an Albany scandal and nearly brought down the governor.
Johnson's attorney said his client surrendered this morning. He declined further comment until after Johnson's court appearance today. Johnson was released without bail following his late afternoon arraignment in Bronx court, where he did not speak. He was charged with five misdemeanors and one violation, and is due in back on October 14.
It was Halloween 2009 when Johnson allegedly beat and choked Sherr-una Booker. Questions have swirled if Gov. David Paterson, Johnson and state police officials engaged in actions to try to silence her. Johnson denies any wrongdoing. The Governor admits he called Booker but has denied it was an attempt to silence her her. He told investigators such allegations were "bogus."
The case was initially handled in Family Court and dropped without prejudice because Booker did not appear for a hearing.
Paterson's involvement in the case -- he made a phone call to Booker, who later dropped the case -- caused him serious political damage. However, investigators found no evidence of witness tampering.
Booker herself told investigators she did not believe the Governor was trying to scare her. According to the report, Booker told investigators she decided not to pursue the family court case because Johnson was no longer contacting her and she did not consider him a "threat."
Booker's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, said his client feels a step closer to justice. "She also believes that no woman should ever have to go through what happened to her,'' he said.
In an interview with NBCNewYork last month, Booker said she intended to pursue charges against Johnson.
"It's not okay for anyone to put their hands on anyone else," said Booker, 41. "It's not okay for someone to be fearful, it's just not okay. Speak up. Stand up," she said.
An investigation into the case by the New York Attorney General's office found that Paterson "showed bad judgment" but did not break the law.
The report by special counsel Judge Judith Kaye suggests that the Bronx District attorney should move forward with a criminal investigation of David Johnson for the alleged domestic violence incident.
"The evidence reviewed warrants consideration of possible charges against David Johnson relating to the Oct. 31 incident," Judge Kaye said. But, she adds, no other criminal charges should be filed against others connected to this case.
Booker called 9-1-1 three times after the alleged assault. In the third call, she told the 9-1-1 operator that she was scared and feared Johnson might return to "finish the job." The NYPD patrol car was delayed in responding because it had to cover a car accident and a landlord-tenant dispute at the same time.
When officers arrived, they said the did not see any injuries, classified the incident as a 'harassment' violation and advised Booker to pursue the matter in family court. The NYPD report later erroneously stated Booker's complaint had been "unfounded" after a wrong code for the complaint was entered into the computer. Booker then went to Lincoln Hospital for treatment and to meet with a social worker on how to handle a domestic violence incident.
Paterson is still being investigated for ethics laws violations on free Yankees tickets for the 2009 World Series and whether he lied about his intention to pay for them. One of the tickets went to Johnson, officials said.
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