Johnson pleads guilty to internet stalking of child, will serve at least six years

Friday, March 15, 2013

GREEN FOREST -- A former building inspector for the city of Green Forest pleaded guilty last week to internet stalking of a child.

James Eugene Johnson, who resigned after being arrested last September, will serve at least six years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, according to a March 8 plea agreement.

Johnson will also have to register as a sex offender, and could serve a further 10 years if he violates the conditions of his probation.

Johnson was arrested in Van Buren, Ark. on Sept. 16, after he allegedly engaged in a sexually charged online chat with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old

He was released two days later after posting his $6,000 bond.

Johnson had been nearby in Fort Smith for a work-related training seminar when he allegedly used his city-issued laptop to visit a Yahoo chat room and met Van Buren Police Sgt. Daniel Perry, posing as "Talisha."

The transcript of the two's conversation, provided by prosecutors, shows that the two chatted for a total of an hour and a half before Johnson agreed to meet for sex at a storefront in Van Buren.

He arrived in his city-issued, white Dodge Dakota and was promptly arrested.

According to police reports, Johnson admitted to believing he was chatting with a 14-year-old girl. He also admitted to talking about having oral sex together and to exposing himself for an extended length of time on his webcam with the understanding that a minor was watching.

Johnson was placed on leave after his arrest and submitted his resignation letter the following week. Though Johnson worked for the city of Green Forest, he lived in Berryville and volunteered with the fire department there. He was suspended from the department after his arrest.

Johnson is currently free, pending commitment to the Department of Corrections. He posted his $7,500 bond on March 8.

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