Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Drug dealer caught sending nude to minor, sentenced to prison
On Wednesday, Gary Johnson, Sr., appeared for a second time before Judge Mark Fleegle to plead guilty to one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles a felony of the fourth degree punishable by 18 months of incarceration, as well as one count of trafficking in cocaine in the vicinity of a school or juvenile, one county of possession of cocaine, and one count of having weapons under disability. During a previous hearing, Johnson feigned a medical issue. Wednesday, Johnson, who is 77 years old, received a seven (7) year sentence.
Johnson was well known in the community due to his habit of exposing himself in front of the windows of unsuspecting citizens. In early summer of last year, Johnson had just finished a six-month sentence in the city jail for the misdemeanor public indecency offense when his Facebook account got him into further trouble.
Johnson sent a twelve-year-old child received an unsolicited sexual picture through Facebook messenger in June. The victim replied to the sender that she was 12 and was going to tell her mother. The mother, recognizing the photo to be from an old man, reported the picture to Facebook and law enforcement. Facebook reported the picture and the data about the picture to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC did initial research on the picture and found out it originated within Ohio, reporting the picture to the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
The Ohio ICAC investigation determined that the sender of the picture was Gary Johnson, Sr. from Zanesville. They referred the case to the Zanesville Police Department, where Det. Brian Swingle was already familiar with Johnson’s history. Det. Swingle was able to obtain search warrants for Johnson’s homes, which were served in October.
During the search warrants, a large quantity of crack cocaine was found alongside Johnson’s papers, birthday cards and effects. Moreover, his cell phone was seized and searched and inside detectives located the picture Johnson sent to the child, as well as the Facebook conversations with the child leading to his sending the photograph.
Johnson tried to claim he had been hacked, but more than 120 other conversations were discovered on the phone occurring over an extended period of time, where he would send the same photo – unrequested – both to women who were familiar to him and to others who were strangers. Finally, Det. Swingle verified that image was that of Johnson himself, taken in his own bathroom.
Johnson demonstrated that he enjoyed what he had done when, months prior to learning of the investigation, he created fake “vanity” news articles on his phone entitled “Gary Johnson was caught sharing his nude with an underage and he is also a drug dealer.” The fake article included a picture of his face, and the sexual photograph which gave rise to the case.
As a consequence of the prosecution, Johnson will forfeit the home he used to deal drugs at 951 McIntire Ave to the county. His offense carries mandatory time, so he is ineligible for early release or judicial release.
“It is true to say that Mr. Johnson has a serious mental issue,” according to APA John Litle who handled the case. “Having a mental issue is not an excuse for continued criminal behavior that endangers and threatens the community, and this has gone on long enough.”
The Muskingum County Prosecutor’s Office thanks the victim and her mother in this case for taking the time to report the image and thereby safeguarding future victim’s of Johnson’s conduct.
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