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Sallisaw man charged with possession of firearm

Saturday, April 30, 2022 - A Sallisaw man was charged April 21 with possession of a firearm after former felony conviction, court records show.

James Dean Johnson, 62, faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of the felony.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, on March 28, a Sequoyah County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling on 4710 Road when he saw a vehicle traveling westbound without a license plate. The deputy made a U-turn and conducted a traffic stop.

After informing the driver, David Watts, that the vehicle didn’t have a license plate, Watts said he didn’t have a driver’s license either, but he gave the deputy his identifying information. Johnson, a passenger in the vehicle, gave deputies his driver’s license.

When asked why the license plate wasn’t mounted on the car, Watts said Johnson had purchased the car two days before the traffic stop. Johnson also admitted there was no insurance on the car at the time of the traffic stop.

The deputy ordered Watts to come to his patrol car to issue a written warning for driving without a valid driver’s license.

A check with dispatch to verify whether Watts and Johnson had valid driver’s licenses revealed that neither man had licenses.

Asked what they were doing driving around without licenses, Watts told the deputy they were test-driving the vehicle, but Watts’ nervous demeanor caught the deputy’s attention.

The deputy asked Watts to wait in his patrol unit while he questioned Johnson. Once Johnson was frisked and found with no weapons on his person, the deputy told him that his driver’s license was suspended. Johnson said he had the same issue during a previous traffic stop in Arkansas. When asked by the deputy why the two men were driving around with no license, Johnson began shifting his weight back and forth as he answered, stating they were test-driving the vehicle.

Because of their apparent nervousness, the deputy asked Johnson if there was anything illegal in the car. Johnson said no and gave his consent to a search.

While searching the vehicle, the deputy discovered a pump shotgun that was concealed under several clothing items in the back seat. Johnson admitted the gun belonged to him.

Dispatch told the deputy the gun had not been reported stolen, but another check revealed Johnson’s status as a convicted felon. Because Johnson had a felony conviction in 1989, the deputy seized the firearm.

Johnson said his felony was supposed to have been expunged and the deputy told him if he could produce the proper paperwork stating that he was allowed to possess a firearm, he could retrieve the weapon from the Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson received a citation for not having proof of insurance on the vehicle, and because neither man had valid driver’s licenses, they had to contact a licensed driver to come pick up the car.

Johnson’s bond was set at $10,000.

Andrea Adams, Staff Writer

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