Case Snapshot
Case ID: 10348
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
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Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

County: Lake

Disposition: Not Charged

Person of Interest: Terry Johnson

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

Chicago Bears' defensive tackle Tank Johnson's home was raided late Dec 14 morning by a SWAT team armed with a search warrant.

Johnson was charged with six misdemeanor counts of possessing weapons without a state Firearm Owner's Identification card, and 26-year-old Willie Posey, a resident in the player's house, was charged with felony possession of marijuana.

The weapons taken from the house were three rifles -- a military-style AR-15, a .308 Winchester and a 5.65 mm -- and three handguns -- a .44 Magnum, a .50 caliber and a .45 caliber.

"There was a lot of ammunition in the house. Some of the weapons I know were loaded," said Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones.

The misdemeanor counts carry a maximum penalty of just under one year in jail with an option of up to two years of probation.

"(The guns) were one of the things listed on the search warrant," said Jones. "We also did not know who would be in the house at the time of the warrant, so the officers took the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of others."

The department, along with a SWAT team from the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System, decided to conduct the raid Thursday. The investigation began Nov. 4.

Jones would not indicate what tipped authorities off about Johnson's activity.

Jones said the police department chose to launch the raid while Johnson was at practice at Halas Hall in Conway Park, Lake Forest.

"We executed the search warrant as time fell into place, and it just happened that he was at practice," Jones said.

Johnson was sentenced to 18 months probation for assault in February. Jones would not comment on how that may affect the current case.

Gurnee police confiscated a half ounce of marijuana that allegedly belonged to Posey.

Tom Dillon, the Bears' director of security and safety services, took the third-year defensive lineman from Halas Hall to the Gurnee police station at 3:15 p.m.

Johnson, along with his Waukegan attorney, Thomas Briscoe, turned himself in on the charges and was freed after posting $100 for his $1,000 bond.

"We were in contact with the state's attorney's office all afternoon, and I surrendered him as soon as we got the word from them," Briscoe said.

Johnson's attorney said the charges will be fought in court.

"He thinks that once all the information comes out, he will be vindicated," Briscoe said. "He says the facts are totally different from what's being portrayed."

The search warrant was executed shortly before 11 Thursday morning with four occupants -- including two toddlers -- inside the house in the 400 block of North Delany Road.

Neighbors said Posey was taken out of the house in handcuffs following the raid, while police removed the toddlers.

"No one was harmed during the execution of the warrant. There was no danger to anyone in the area," said Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick.

The neighbors who spoke to The News-Sun refused to disclose their names.

A woman who lives in an adjacent house described Johnson as a "normal neighbor" who would be seen walking his dogs.

Another neighbor, a man, said Johnson had trouble with his dogs at times, but would seek help from neighbors.

Other neighbors complained that Johnson mishandled his firearms at times, including an incident involving a person who fired a gun in Johnson's back yard.

Johnson had six pit bulls locked in cages in his back yard, and neighbors said police were called several times on animal cruelty issues.

"We have had calls in reference to animal issues at Johnson's home in the past," Jones said, but he would not say whether charges or citations were filed relative to those complaints.

Johnson's neighbors also said several of his teammates frequented the house while he was out of town.

Bears' coach Lovie Smith expressed disappointment.

"Of course we're disappointed that something like this is coming up. We're constantly talking about our players, about doing the right thing, and our players do the right thing the majority of the time," Smith said.

"But sometimes things like this come up," Smith said. "But again, I'm going to wait to see exactly what the charges are before I can talk any more on it."


Case Updates

Suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson signed a two-year contract Tuesday with the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnson, who played the last three seasons for the Chicago Bears, can't play for the Cowboys and won't be paid until he completes his eight-game NFL suspension for violating probation on a gun charge. He has served the first two games of that suspension and will still have to apply for reinstatement.

Johnson signed after visiting with the Cowboys and taking a physical. He will make about $255,000 this season, the prorated portion of a minimum contract.

The Bears released Johnson on June 25, three days after he was pulled over by police in Gilbert, Arizona. He already had served a two-month jail term for the gun charge and been suspended by the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Gilbert police closed the June case without charging Johnson, who was stopped for speeding. His blood alcohol level was .072, under the presumptive limit for DUI.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had said the suspension could be reduced to six games if Johnson had no further involvement with law enforcement and underwent counseling.

Last December, police raided Johnson's suburban Chicago home and found six unregistered firearms -- a violation of his probation on an earlier gun charge.

Johnson also had six pit bulls locked in cages in his back yard, and neighbors said police were called several times on animal cruelty issues. To date, no animal cruelty charges have been filed.
Source: CBS11TV.Com - Sep 18, 2007
Update posted on Sep 25, 2007 - 11:20PM 
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson was set free from jail Sunday after spending two months behind bars for violating parole in a 2005 weapons case.

He was released from Chicago's Cook County Jail on good behavior after serving half of his four-month sentence.

The 25-year-old is to have a hearing with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday in New York and could face a multigame suspension by the league.

Johnson's jailing in March stemmed from a Dec. 14 police raid on his Gurnee home, where authorities found six unregistered firearms.

Johnson pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor weapons charge as part of a deal with prosecutors that kept him from serving more time in jail. He was ordered to serve 45 days, which he was able to serve concurrently with the sentence for violating his probation.

Animal cruelty charges have yet to be filed. Johnson surrendered "Trina" and his two other pit bulls to the county's Animal Control Program on Dec. 20, six days after police searched Johnson's home in Gurnee. The police raid followed neighbors' allegations about gunfire, marijuana smoke and the neglect of Johnson's three dogs.
Source: Eurweb.com - May 15, 2007
Update posted on Jun 3, 2007 - 3:24PM 
A pit bull put up for adoption after the recent legal troubles of its owner, Bears lineman Terry "Tank" Johnson, will be handed over today to a no-kill pet shelter that will seek a new home for the canine.

The hand-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Save-A-Pet, a shelter for dogs and cats at 31664 N. Fairfield Rd., Grayslake, according to an announcement by the Lake County Health Department.

Vestee Jackson, a former Chicago Bear now associated with Save-A-Pet, will find a suitable home for the dog, the health department said in a news release.

Johnson surrendered "Trina" and his two other pit bulls to the county's Animal Control Program on Dec. 20, six days after police searched Johnson's home in Gurnee. The police raid followed neighbors' allegations about gunfire, marijuana smoke and the neglect of Johnson's three dogs.

While Trina awaits adoption, Johnson's other two canines will remain at Animal Control's facility in Mundelein while their owner makes arrangements to ship them to his permanent residence in Arizona.

During the Dec. 14 police raid, officers seized six handguns and rifles. They charged Johnson with six misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a weapon without a Firearm Owner's Identification card.

Johnson's friend and bodyguard, Willie B. Posey, who lived in the player's home, was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana. Two days later, Posey was shot dead during a nightclub altercation on Chicago's North Side.

On Dec. 22, a Cook County judge found Johnson in violation of probation from a prior misdemeanor weapons conviction. The judge ordered the player to home confinement, emerging only to attend Bears-related events.
Source: Chicago Tribune - Dec 29, 2006
Update posted on Dec 29, 2006 - 2:20PM 
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson has relinquished the ownership of his three pit bulls to the Lake County Health Department after a series of complaints from a neighbor.

"He just wants to get rid of any negative perceptions towards him from the neighbors," his Waukegan attorney Thomas Briscoe said Thursday. "It was hard for him to give them up, but he felt he had to do it."

The three dogs -- Cane, Debo and Trina -- are at the Lake County Animal Control center near Mundelein and could be shipped to an animal shelter in Johnson's hometown of Chandler, Ariz.

"Johnson asked us to have them taken into our possession so he could get them to be shipped to Arizona," said Leslie Piotrowski of the Lake County Health Department.

The dogs were taken by an animal control warden Dec 20 from Johnson's home in the 400 block of Delany Road.

The Bears player was arrested at his home Dec. 14 on a weapons violation, while friend Willie Posey was charged with marijuana possession. Posey died a day later after being shot at a trendy Chicago night spot.

Animal control wardens were called to Johnson's home six times in the past year for animal nuisance complaints and suspicion of animal cruelty.

"Right now, the dogs appear to be fine," Piotrowski said. "Last year, there was a lot of feces and they had no food or water, but Johnson made corrections to the living conditions at last check."

Johnson, 25, was cited by animal control during the initial check on the residence.

He is due in Cook County Circuit Court today regarding the violation of his probation stemming from the raid by Gurnee police and a SWAT team.

"He has an issue at court (today) where Cook County is seeking to file a petition for a violation of probation," Briscoe said. "It will be handled (today). I am not representing him in the Cook County case."

Johnson was sentenced to 18 months probation in November 2005 for a gun possession charge.

With Johnson's most recent arrest on six misdemeanor charges of having six firearms -- including to assault rifles -- without a state Firearm Owners Identification card, authorities in Cook County are seeking to revoke his probation.

Despite Johnson's recent troubles, Briscoe said the player's neighbors have been supportive of the defensive tackle.

"He likes the neighbors and a lot of them like him," Briscoe said. "The times I have been there, there were three or four neighbors knocking on his door to convey support for him."

Johnson is seeking a different residence in Lake County, not due to the recent raid, but for football-related injury issues, Briscoe indicated.

"Johnson would like to get a ranch-style house where he doesn't have to walk up and down stairs," Briscoe said. "He had surgery last year and he needs a ranch-style home."

Chicago police are still working the homicide investigation into Posey's death.

"Our detectives are still assessing the crime scene and we do not have any new leads in development," said Chicago Police News and Public Affairs Officer Marcel Bright.
Source: Lake County Sun-News - Dec 22, 2006
Update posted on Dec 22, 2006 - 1:20PM 
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Terry "Tank" Johnson's arrest last week followed years of complaints about him to Gurnee officials -- from Johnson's own neighbors.

NBC5's Amy Jacobson reported that Gurnee police have been called to Johnson's home seven times for noise complaints and animal neglect -- and, most importantly, for a gunshot that rang out when Johnson's friend, Willie Posey, allegedly couldn't get the pit bulls under control. Posey was killed early Saturday morning during a confrontation at a River North nightclub. On Thursday, police raided Johnson's house, where they they found six unregistered guns.

Johnson's neighbors said they described the last two and a half years as hell, documenting what they called the abuse and neglect of Johnson's three pit bulls. One family, who filmed their experience on videotape, did not want to appear on camera, but Jacobson reported that they, along with other neighbors, have called Gurnee police and animal control a dozen times.

Johnson's neighbors said they believe he rarely let the dogs out of their cages, even during the bitter cold and extreme heat. They also alleged that he would forget to feed the animals for days at a time, and that there were feces all over the cage. In addition, neighbors said there was urine-soaked straw piled up, which created a horrific odor.

Lake County animal control authorities investigated, and Jacobson reported that documents show there was a smell of urine and feces, and dogs that were not fed for two and a half days. Out of desperation, the family wrote letters to Johnson, then to the village administrator, and then finally, to Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo.

Johnson eventually hired neighbors to help take care of the dogs.

"There was quite a smell back there," said Kevin Callen, who is a former caretaker for Johnson's dogs. "When I was taking care of them, he did let them inside. At least every other day I saw them going in. It was warmer weather then."

A few months ago, Johnson bought bark collars to keep the dogs quiet, Jacobson reported. But then, on Nov. 4, Posey was frustrated that a dog got out and he allegedly fired one shot at the dog and toward a neighbor's house. This is the action, police said, that prompted the search warrant, which took place last week.

Johnson did not have any comment, Jacobson reported, but his attorney said the dogs were well-cared for and were in compliance with state law.

Neighbors said Johnson was a nice guy, but they were worried after the shooting in November, followed by the raid. A Bears official said that Johnson is planning on moving out of Gurnee, and is looking for a bigger yard and less neighbors.
Source: NBC 5 - Dec 20, 2006
Update posted on Dec 20, 2006 - 5:39PM 

References


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