Man with ties to former East Wash police chief sentenced

February 19, 2013

An East Washington man said his interest in and “tinkering” with firearms was innocent , but recognized that it was wrong for him to sell guns and suppressors to an FBI informant and agents.

Timothy D. Johnson, 41, who has ties to former East Washington police chief Donald Solomon, said that he “eventually succumbed to the temptation” to make the sales due to financial problems.

Johnson was sentenced to five years in prison Feb. 13 on federal firearm charges by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

Johnson told Bissoon that his actions were indefensible. Bissoon, however, said Johnson’s excuses were “incredible and disingenuous.”

In October, Johnson pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts, including possession and transfer of silencers and a machine gun and transfer of a firearm to a felon.

Johnson had unique ties to Solomon, who was arrested in 2011 and is awaiting sentencing on three counts of extortion. He pleaded guilty in federal court last month and is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.

Johnson was charged for selling a gun to a convicted felon in 2008, and for selling silencers and a machine gun to federal agents between Dec. 5, 2010, and Oct. 14, 2011. Most of the transactions and conversations preceding the transactions were captured on audio and video recordings supervised by the FBI.

After his arrest, Johnson also admitted that the gun and silencer he possessed and transferred May 18, 2011, were used by him in April 2011 in a drive-by shooting of a car belonging to the boyfriend of Solomon’s former girlfriend.

One of the bullets from that shooting struck the North Franklin Township house, though no one was injured. Johnson told the FBI that Solomon instigated the shooting. According to the FBI, Johnson was part of a group of people from the Washington area who would rob drug houses. Solomon would provide the group with police information and identify the locations of the drug houses.

Solomon is accused of participating in drug deals, selling Tasers to people he thought were dealers and talking about killing his ex-girlfriend and a borough councilman. He was fired by the borough shortly after his indictment. According to a court paper filed by Johnson’s attorney, Lee Markovitz, Johnson was in a romantic relationship with Solomon’s ex-wife and was living in a home owned by Solomon, whom he described as “a corrupt cop.”

Solomon’s girlfriend had left Solomon and moved in with her new boyfriend when Solomon asked Johnson to go into their residence and point a gun at them to try to scare them into terminating their relationship.

Feeling pressured to satisfy Solomon, Johnson drove past the house in the middle of the night and fired several rounds into an automobile that was parked some distance away from the home. One of those shots, however, pierced the garage door.

“Timothy Johnson did the minimum he could to try to satisfy a man who, for reasons stated above, wielded power over” him, Markovitz claimed.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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