There is nothing new about this fact, and yet it continues to surprise people when it shows up in news headlines in one form or another: It is entirely possible to be both a politician and a criminal at the same time.
And that is certainly the case for newly inaugurated Newaygo County commissioner, 64-year-old Steven Arnold Johnson, who is scheduled to be arraigned on January 12th in the Newaygo County District Court on charges of destruction of personal property.
According to court records, a warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest, and he was both arrested and released in Kent County on December 27th. The charge was malicious destruction of personal property causing between $1,000 and $20,000 in damage, which is a felony under Michigan law, punishable by up to five years in prison.
So What Caused All the Chaos for this Accused Politician?
Well, according to police records, he vandalized a number of cars at Freedom Chevrolet, a Fremont car dealership. In fact, according to the Fremont Police Department, it was a total of 11 vehicles that were damaged in the March 3rd incident.
And this isn’t just any dealership, mind you. This was the very same one that Johnson himself used to own. So why was commissioner Johnson destroying cars at his former dealership? Well, good question. And the answer is: we don’t know. No one does, it seems.
But as of now, it hasn’t made a bit of difference to Johnson’s status as a commissioner. According to Tobi Lake, the Newaygo County Administrator, being charged with a crime doesn’t change anything. However, if he were to be convicted, Johnson would risk being removed from office by the Governor.
Johnson, who ran as a Republican, was elected to the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners on November 4th. Because of his involvement with county government, Robert Springstead, the Newaygo County Prosecutor has chosen to recuse himself from the case. Instead, the charges are being prosecuted by the Mecosta County Prosecutor’s Office.