A Linden man who trained dogs for law enforcement has been sentenced to prison for his role in the case against Turlock’s Bob Holloway and the Denair Road Dog Cycle shop.
Stephen J. Johnson, 66, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to 15 months in prison for committing perjury before a federal grand jury and making false statements to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, Johnson, a law enforcement dog trainer who worked in the Central Valley, was charged with conspiring to obstruct an FBI investigation into Bob Holloway, former owner of Road Dog Cycle in Denair. Johnson was also charged with two counts of making false statements to the FBI and six counts of perjury before a federal grand jury.
Holloway had been charged by a federal grand jury of extortion and racketeering. He was accused of running a chop shop out of his Denair store and using extortion and violence to collect debts. He was arrested in July 2008, along with 11 other men, after a federal grand jury returned indictments against them. Holloway eventually pled guilty to racketeering and extortion charges and was sentenced to four years in prison in September 2010.
Holloway once served as a deputy with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department until he was injured in a work-related crash.
During the course of the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force investigation into Holloway and his motorcycle shop, agents began to suspect information was being leaked by law enforcement . To ferret out the leaks, the task force released a bulletin with information marked as confidential and for law enforcement only. In reality the information did not detail anything that would jeopardize the investigation.
After circulating the bulletin, the task force monitored wiretaps it had placed on Holloway’s phones, hoping to catch the law enforcement officers leaking information.
Gary Ermoian, a private investigator from Stanislaus County, who was friends with Holloway, learned of the bulletin through a contact at the Stanislaus County courthouse and phoned Holloway to warn him about the investigation and that a search warrant could be forthcoming.
Johnson also learned of the bulletin and issued similar warnings to Holloway.
The case against the two men argued that because of their tips, Holloway was able to hide evidence that could be used against him.
When interviewed by the FBI in 2008, Johnson denied assisting Holloway in hiding evidence and informing Holloway about law enforcement surveillance. Johnson then testified under oath before a federal grand jury later in 2008 and further denied assisting Holloway.
Both Johnson and Ermoian were both convicted on charges of obstructing justice during the case, however, the the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the obstruction of justice count against Ermoian and Johnson last year, citing an investigation by the FBI is not “an official proceeding” which is a needed requirement for proving an obstruction charge. Johnson therefore had to be re-sentenced on the perjury and false statement counts of which he was convicted.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, a task force composed of state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Modesto Police Department, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI.