A 34-year-old Katy man has been ordered to prison after discharging a firearm in the hallway of an apartment building while conducting a drug trafficking offense resulting in the death of the buyer, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
James Michael Curtis Johnson pleaded guilty Feb. 6, 2017, to discharging a firearm as well as aggravated identity theft as part of a separate fraud scheme.
According to court records, on Tuesday, February 19, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes handed Johnson a 120-month sentence for the firearms charge plus a mandatory and consecutive 24 months for identity theft. The total 144-month prison term will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, Judge Hughes noted Johnson had a gun to perpetuate your drug deal. "That's not self-defense," he said. That's defending your wrong." He also addressed Johnson's family. "I want y'all to love him, but don't make excuses for him." Hughes commented. "He knew what he was doing."
At the time of his guilty plea, Johnson admitted that on Oct. 1, 2014, he and a friend received a request to sell narcotics at an apartment building on the 2600 block of Woodland Park in Houston. Johnson was worried that something might go wrong at the drug sale meeting, so he also brought a pistol, checking before he left to ensure it was loaded.
During the sale, an altercation arose in the hallway and one of the buyers drew a gun. Johnson ducked, drew his own pistol, fired several rounds at the buyer with the gun and fled. Authorities arrived on scene and discovered the hallway pockmarked with bullets, a partially-opened box of narcotics and a trail of blood leading to the body of the victim who was deceased.
For his participation in a conspiracy to steal money from online bank accounts, Johnson was also convicted of aggravated identity theft. In that case, Johnson and his co-conspirators possessed and unlawfully used the identification of two victims to fraudulently induce their bank to send blank checks to the conspirators. As part of this conspiracy, the conspirators wrote a fraudulent check for $91,256.73 and deposited it at BBVA Compass Bank in Houston. They withdrew the money before the bank could stop the payment.
Johnson will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The FBI's Houston Area Cyber Task Force, IRS-Criminal Investigation and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu prosecuted the case.