Worried about the FBI

In audio legally recorded in his Tucson hotel room on the night of December 8, 2021, private investigator Todd Johnson accuses a woman of being a federal agent. He badgers her with this accusation to keep her in his room and to coerce sexual contact.

The lawfulness of Johnson’s purported investigation was questionable the moment he arrived in Tucson earlier that day.

As a private investigator licensed in California but not in Arizona, Johnson is required by law to notify the Arizona Department of Public Safety before conducting an investigation in that state. However, according to the Licensing Investigation Unit, there is no record that Johnson sought a reciprocal license agreement in Arizona.

Johnson spends the afternoon with the woman. Together, they visit potential witnesses regarding civil litigation involving Kyle Rittenhouse. In the evening, Johnson invites her to drink with him in the hotel bar. He takes her back to his room, ostensibly to eat nachos.

The woman tries to leave Johnson’s room several times. The first time, Johnson taunts her: “You’re a big girl. You know who you are.”

“I’m worried that you’re thinking I’m somebody that I’m not,” she says.

At the door, Johnson asks her to prove she’s not a federal agent. He puts his hands under her clothes and touches her breasts — she claims — as he searches for a wire.

She laughs as if Johnson is tickling her. “Is this a part of the cavity search?” she asks.

“You work for the feds?” Johnson asks again and again. She says no.

Later, she tells a journalist that during this exchange Johnson pushes her against the door. She sprains her wrist pushing him away.

“You dumb ass,” she exclaims. “Why you gotta pull all cop shit on me?”

“Stay the night with me,” he says. “Stay the night or I’m done.”

She later tells the police that she stays to “talk him down.” Johnson has consumed a lot of alcohol. He has shown violent flashes of temper. He has a gun.

Fuckin’ DOJ

Also, the woman spent the entire afternoon in Johnson’s company answering his questions. Johnson told her that he knows her social security number and sensitive details about her life. She fears retaliation if she leaves.

She stays to placate him. But he won’t stop bullying. Soon, she’s in tears, exhausted by Johnson’s bizarre interrogation. She’s leaving.

“No, you can’t drive,” Johnson says. “You’re buzzed.”

“I thought we were just talking about stuff,” she sobs.

“Oh, I thought so, too,” he says. “Here’s the deal. I gotta deal with the FBI. Fuckin’ DOJ. Are you part of the FBI? I don’t know.”

As if Johnson’s dealings with the FBI and DOJ — whatever they may be — entitle him to browbeat her.

Later, he asks, “Are you leaving?”

“Yeah,” she says, “because you wanted me to.”

If you’re not such a fed…

“That means you got a camera setup somewhere. I don’t trust you. So tell me why you would leave right now.”

Another time, he taunts her: “You are such a fed. …Then if you’re not such a fed, let’s go fuck. …Oh, if you’re gonna leave, then you’re a fed.”

Johnson is in a position of authority in this situation. He is a legal investigator hired to interview the woman as a potential witness. Johnson is a former LBPD homicide detective.

Johnson knows that the woman is intoxicated. On the recording, she recounts that she’s had four or five drinks, to which Johnson replies sarcastically, “So you’re sober.”

Touch it. Rub it.

On the recording Johnson can be heard kissing her and demanding more physical contact. At one point, he whispers to her, “Touch it. Rub it.”

Johnson’s behavior is inappropriate at the very least.

If Johnson were an ordinary private citizen, his fear of the feds could be considered paranoid delusion. But Johnson is a retired LEO. He sounds convinced that the federal government has probable cause to warrant cameras and listening devices in his hotel room.

Why such a guilty mind?

Maybe because of his time at LBPD. A recent lawsuit exposed lies and corruption at the heart of Johnson’s former agency. In response to the revelations, some people are calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Long Beach police.

Some speculate that such an investigation is already underway.

Famously, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department was investigated by the feds. The highly publicized investigation resulted in disgraced Sheriff Lee Baca’s 2017 conviction for felony obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

In that case, sheriff deputies harassed a female federal agent. They threatened to arrest her as a felony suspect.

Now, Todd Johnson’s former boss — former Long Beach Chief of Police Robert Luna — is campaigning for the job of L.A. Sheriff. Under Luna, LBPD shredded 23 years of internal affairs records. Luna is hardly a champion of cracking down on police misconduct.

As Todd Johnson harasses a female “federal agent” on tape in Tucson, it’s easy to hear echoes of other corrupt cops in L.A. County, past and present.

Maybe they fear the feds for good reason.

A little out of hand

The accusers were longtime friends of Todd Johnson’s family. Instead of going to the police, the young women wanted to meet with Johnson and his wife to tell them what their son was alleged to have done. An audio recording of the meeting was made on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Johnson’s wife did not attend. Todd Johnson was a homicide detective in Long Beach, California at the time.

On the recording, the mother of one of the women begins by explaining the circumstances. “Some shit went down last night, and it’s not OK, and I don’t know where to start with this,” she says.

During a party hosted at her house, several 20-something-year-olds — close friends since childhood — played cards, used the Jacuzzi, and drank alcohol. Johnson’s son spent the night at the house. In the early morning hours, he allegedly raped two young women as they tried to sleep.

One woman tells Johnson that she passed out wearing clothes. She woke up naked. Johnson’s son was naked on top of her, she says.

“I don’t know what your thoughts are about this,” the mother says to Johnson, “but I’m pretty upset about it.”

“Yeah,” Johnson says, sounding untroubled. “I mean, he’s not a bad kid. Everybody’s known him forever.”

The father of one of the women bristles at Johnson’s unconcerned response.

Johnson snarls at him: “You don’t know me. I don’t know you. So don’t fuckin’ grind your little teeth right there, dude. Cuz I’m not gonna play that game.”

“This is his daughter,” the mother tells Johnson.

“I get that,” Johnson says. “Wow, dude.”

The father says that the women wanted to tell Johnson what had happened rather than press charges.

“I get that,” Johnson says, dismissive. “Honestly, my kid’s not a bad kid. It got a little out of hand, obviously. I totally get that.”

As Johnson speaks, the mother says, “Todd, Todd, Todd,” as if wanting him to see the seriousness of the matter.

A young woman can be heard sobbing. She tells Johnson that she’s had a difficult day.

“I’m sorry, but you know I’m just a little stressed,” Johnson says. “You know what I do for a living? I work homicide.”

Suddenly, it’s all about Johnson and his job as a police detective: “I got murders every day. I got dead bodies laying all over the streets. So I’m a stressful motherfucker.”

“Todd, what do you think about this?” the mother asks, trying to re-focus on the alleged sexual assaults. “I mean, what do you think?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we’ll just throw fuckin’ Blake in prison,” he says with a note of sarcasm. “I don’t know. I’m just pissed at him.”

Johnson’s tone becomes threatening: “You gotta understand where I come from. I don’t fuck around. I will whoop — I will go home and fuck him up. I don’t even care.”

“What do we do?” the mother asks. “Where do we go from here?”

The father tells Johnson they’ve said what they wanted to say, and now he and his family are saying goodbye to the Johnson family.

“You guys know I’ve worked this job for 20 years,” Johnson says, reminding them again that he is an officer of the law. As if to suggest that two allegations of sexual assault are inconsequential, Johnson says: “I’ve seen everything under the sun possible.”

“I know you have,” the mother says. “But you haven’t seen someone like your daughter, like has happened — this is like — come on.”

A young woman sobs. Johnson says sorry to each young woman by name, but does not say specifically for what he is sorry. The meeting ends.

The recording stands as a document of Johnson’s disdain for crime victims and their families.

Ultimately, the young women sought rape kit exams and filed a police report. Johnson’s son was not arrested in connection with the allegations and was not prosecuted.

It’s notable that during the meeting Johnson expressed no doubt about his son’s guilt.

Why is Johnson infamous?

Todd Johnson became infamous because he got away with misconduct for years while working as a homicide detective for the Long Beach Police Department in Los Angeles County, California. His misdeeds would not have been possible without extraordinary help and support from many superiors, fellow officers, and friends.

As Beachcomber reporter Stephen Downing put it: “Johnson has a reputation for heavy alcohol consumption and enjoys an unusual level of protection by department brass from disciplinary action because of his elite assignment and attachment to what department insiders call the favored ‘Boys ‘n’ Girls Club.'”

DUI Incident in 2017

Beachcomber reported that, on the night of December 26, 2017, Homicide Detective Todd Johnson had been drinking at Crow’s Cocktail in Long Beach. About 10 minutes after leaving the bar, Johnson was behind the wheel of a plain-colored, on-call LBPD police sedan when he collided with another car. The other motorist smelled alcohol on Johnson’s breath and called 911.

Lloyd Cox, the LBPD duty chief at the time, covered up the incident by ordering that no Breathalyzer be administered, and that Johnson be allowed to drive the city vehicle from the scene.

Beachcomber reported that a former employee at Crow’s Cocktail said: “Todd Johnson was a regular. He spends a lot of time in the bar. His drink of choice is a pint glass full of straight vodka with a soda side. He would often have four or five drinks. He always got past the point of being served, but we said nothing because he’s a big guy with anger issues. We didn’t want him or the LBPD vice squad coming down on us.”

According to Beachcomber, a LBPD source said of Johnson: “He definitely has anger issues. I’m sure it comes from his drinking. He’d regularly blow up in the office at his partners, peers, the sergeant and lieutenant and nothing would happen to him. Everyone in the office who sat near him knew he was a powder keg.”

Complaint and retaliation

Earlier in 2017, Homicide Detective Mark Bigel complained to LBPD supervisors that Johnson had arrived at the scene of an Officer Involved Shooting incident and took part in the investigation while smelling of alcohol and possibly being intoxicated. Johnson was not disciplined. Rather, Bigel was transferred out of homicide in retaliation for reporting Johnson.

Johnson in 2021

A source at LBPD told Beachcomber: “Todd Johnson was drunk or under the influence at work most of the time and everybody knew it. When Bigel stepped up and reported him for being liquored up at the OIS scene he didn’t get any backup because the guys knew the brass would turn it around on them for not reporting it earlier. So, [Lloyd] Cox saved Johnson and got rid of Bigel. That’s the way it works here, if you’re a favorite in the Boys ‘n’ Girls Club you’re protected. If you’re not, they find a way to get rid of you.”

After Beachcomber published details about Johnson’s alleged DUI and drinking on the job, LBPD representatives paid a personal visit to the paper. LBPD representatives wanted Beachcomber to produce the names of its sources and police insiders. Reporter Stephen Downing wrote that LBPD seemed “more interested in challenging the quality of information in the column rather than getting to the real truth of Detective Johnson’s alcohol problem and the LBPD’s broken organizational culture of cover-ups, cronyism and retaliation.”

Also during this time, Johnson was one of several “favored” LBPD officers who communicated with one another using a disappearing-text app called TigerText, which became a focus of controversy.

Botched murder investigation

In 2018, Johnson was at the center of a murder case that fell apart in court due to his mistakes. Johnson and his partner repeatedly misspelled the name of one defendant, and were accused of coaching a witness to identify another defendant in a photo lineup. The judge in the case, Judith L. Meyer, said from the bench: “The behavior of the detectives is appalling and unethical and inappropriate.”

The deputy district attorney in the case complained to her supervisors that Johnson ought to be on a list of officers whose testimony should not be relied on in court. Johnson and LBPD retaliated by blaming the attorney. LBPD brass sat for an interview with a local paper to defend Johnson and his partner. One police official called the botched case a “comedy of errors.”

After Judge Meyer blasted the detectives in court, LBPD supervisors paid her a personal visit, saying they were investigating a complaint by the deputy district attorney. A year later, Johnson and his partner, too, visited the judge privately. Immediately after this visit, Judge Meyer wrote an unusual letter retracting her courtroom criticisms and seeking Johnson’s approval. After this letter was shared with LBPD brass, the DA’s office, and the public defender’s office, Judge Meyer wrote a second letter trying to walk back some of what she had written in the first letter.

LBPost reported about the letters: “In the first one, a draft of which Meyer emailed directly to the detectives, she not only vouched for their integrity but hinted that she had erred in the ruling that led to the dismissal of the murder charges. She spent most of the second letter defending her own integrity.”

It wasn’t the first time LBPD representatives paid a personal visit to one of Johnson’s critics to help salvage his reputation. Ultimately, Judge Meyer was publicly admonished for her misconduct in the matter.

Another botched murder investigation

Johnson was the lead investigator on another botched homicide case in which a man claimed that his wife sustained massive head injuries while doing yoga at home. Hospital personnel reported to police that the woman had been assaulted. The victim’s family alleges that Johnson improperly closed the case without investigating, and lied about the facts to hide his omissions and failures. Despite multiple complaints and pleas from the victim’s family, LBPD refused to reopen the investigation. Johnson’s friend Judge Meyer authorized the initial search warrant in the case.

Silent demotion

Johnson and son

LBPD removed Johnson from the homicide detail in 2018, but the department refused to say why. Some LBPD insiders speculated that Johnson was removed at the request of the Los Angeles District Attorney because of a conflict of interest. Allegedly, Johnson had hired lawyer Henry Salcido, whom he knew from a homicide case, to defend his own son regarding two alleged sexual assaults.

Further, insiders alleged that Johnson, when told about the assaults, intimidated the victims — and, in fact, an audio recording was made of his angry outbursts at the victims.

While some insiders say Johnson retired from LBPD under a cloud in 2019, LBPD has consistently said they have no records regarding sustained findings of misconduct against Johnson. According to public records, Johnson was allowed to retire honorably with pension and benefits.

Rittenhouse case

Johnson in courtroom.

After retirement from LBPD, Johnson was hired as a legal investigator by the Kyle Rittenhouse defense team. It was a high-profile case, and a prestige assignment for Johnson.

On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. The shootings happened during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rittenhouse was charged with homicide. During the trial in November 2021, his lawyer successfully argued that Rittenhouse’s actions were in self-defense. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

A woman who once lived near Joseph Rosenbaum and his family contacted the Rittenhouse defense team after the trial. She talked to Rittenhouse spokesman David Hancock, who determined that her testimony would be important in a civil case. Hancock dispatched Todd Johnson to Tucson, Arizona, to investigate the information offered by the woman.

As a private investigator licensed in California but not in Arizona, Johnson was required by law to notify the Arizona Department of Public Safety before conducting an investigation in that state. According to the Licensing Investigation Unit, there is no record that Johnson sought a reciprocal license agreement in Arizona before this visit to Tucson.

On December 8, 2021, Johnson interviewed the witness and drove her to locations in Tucson to interview other potential witnesses. After spending more than five hours with her, Johnson invited the woman to drink with him in the bar of his hotel. She alleges that she and Johnson drank heavily, and that Johnson assaulted her in his hotel room.

Fearing for her safety and suspecting that her drinks had been drugged, the woman made audio recordings covering more than an hour spent in Johnson’s company. The recordings corroborate what she told police: Johnson was armed and paranoid about “the feds;” he kissed and touched her against her stated wishes; and he pressured her to have sex with him.

The responding Tucson Police officer declined to arrest Johnson, as he wrote in his report, because he wasn’t sure a crime had been committed. Weeks later, the officer amended his police report to assert his own opinion that Johnson’s accuser must be mentally ill.

Johnson again escaped accountability for his choices and actions. That’s why he’s infamous.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 03: Lead defense attorney Mark Richards (C) and potential defense witnesses Todd Johnson (L) and Steve Spignola attend the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 3, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse shot three demonstrators, killing two of them, during a night of unrest that erupted in Kenosha after a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while police attempted to arrest him in August 2020. Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, was 17 at the time of the shooting and armed with an assault rifle. He faces counts of felony homicide and felony attempted homicide. (Photo by Mark Hertzberg-Pool/Getty Images)

Armed and intoxicated?

Long Beach Police Department endorses and approves of Todd Johnson carrying concealed weapons, despite Johnson’s history of alcohol-abuse issues while on the job. Evidence from the 2021 Tucson assault suggests that Johnson’s alcohol-related problems are far from resolved.

How many drinks?

In audio recordings made during the incident, Johnson can be heard saying he does not care how many drinks he’s had.

Further, he states that he left his gun in a briefcase unattended in the hotel bar earlier that evening. He asked the woman who later reported him for assault to watch his gun, which he talks about as a kind of loyalty test for her.

Johnson “trusts” his gun

The recordings reveal Johnson to be slurring his speech, speaking incoherently at times, and desperately paranoid about being set up by “the feds.”

At one point, Johnson declares that he is crazy and punches himself in the head.

At another point, he expresses anger at the Long Beach Police Department for their ingratitude toward his contributions to the department.

Johnson’s expressions of self-harm and contempt for law enforcement ought to alarm LBPD.

Johnson punches himself in the head.

Four LBPD officers — three of whom were connected to the gang unit — have committed suicide in recent years. Two of the gang officers — one of whom was retired — died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the same police substation parking lot.

Todd Johnson, now retired, was once a member of the Long Beach gang unit. Will LBPD brass suspend his CCW permit in light of his recent disturbing behavior? Or will they shrug and allow him to remain armed and intoxicated?

Todd Johnson is authorized to carry concealed weapons.

P.S. The LBPD manual states that to qualify to carry a concealed weapon, a retired officer “may not be under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance.” Arizona law prohibits anyone, including a concealed weapons permit holder, from consuming alcohol while in possession of a firearm on the premises of an alcohol licensee business. (Source: Giffords Law Center.)

Assault in Arizona

Tucson Police Department
Case Number: 2112080227
Reporting Officer: (102417) Austin, Steven

I responded to a Sex Offense call E213421178 with Officers Austad (102542) and Ortega Bentancourt (104588) at 6555 E. Speedway (Embassy Suites) on December 8, 2021 [at 21:39.]

Johnson says, “It’s to get your clothes off.”

Upon arrival we met with the reportee/front desk clerk, REPORTEE NAME REDACTED. REPORTEE said the victim, VICTIM NAME REDACTED, came to the front counter a short time prior to our arrival and complained that she was assaulted.

REPORTEE said VICTIM was crying and stated that the suspect, Todd Johnson [MALE/AGE 52], had touched her and told her to take her clothes off. REPORTEE said VICTIM told her that Johnson thought she was a federal agent and that he had a gun in his room. REPORTEE said VICTIM was in the back office waiting for police and Johnson was in room #549.

Johnson tells her to prove she’s not a fed.

I spoke with the victim, VICTIM [FEMALE/AGE 47], who was sitting in the back room. VICTIM stated that she sent an email to a private investigator, Todd Johnson, who was working the civil trial for the Kyle Rittenhouse / [Joseph] Rosenbaum civil case.

VICTIM said Johnson had flown from California and spent the day/night with her today to conduct his investigation.

Johnson: “Are you going to tell everybody what I did?”

VICTIM said she and Johnson ended their day in the bar at the Embassy Suites and they both had a lot to drink. VICTIM said she went back up to Johnson’s room with him to eat nachos and chicken tenders.

VICTIM said Johnson started acting weird and they were both very drunk. VICTIM said she started an audio recording with her cell phone, because of Johnson’s behavior. I later found out that the recording had started in the bar area, prior to going back to his room. VICTIM stated that she wished to press charges against Johnson.

Johnson: “You are such a fed.”

VICTIM said Johnson accused her of being a federal agent and wearing a “wire”.

VICTIM stated Johnson used his hand to check under her shirt, but above her bra for the wire. VICTIM said Johnson ended up kissing her and putting his tongue in her mouth.

VICTIM said Johnson had his pants unzipped, but she did not see his penis at all. VICTIM said she pushed Johnson away and told him to stop, which he did.

Johnson says he’s crazy and punches himself.

VICTIM said she felt that she needed to “talk Johnson down”, because she was afraid that he would act out aggressively. Johnson said she had no marks or injuries and I did not see any obvious signs of scratches or marks.

VICTIM said she had an audio recording from her phone, which would prove that the assault took place.

Johnson left his gun unattended in hotel bar.

VICTIM said the recording was approximately an hour long and wanted to play it for me. Officer Austad and I listened to the multiple phone recordings, while VICTIM tried to find the assault portion.

VICTIM kept saying that this is where it happened, but we did not hear any type of assault taking place. Officer Austad went to his patrol vehicle to research the mental health information on VICTIM, while I continued to listen to the recordings.

The woman rejects Johnson’s kiss.

I was unable to hear anything that would definitely lead me to believe that VICTIM’s breast was touched as Johnson “checked for a wire”, or that Johnson had unwantedly kissed her.

Johnson sounded more rational than VICTIM did and told her that she could leave multiple times. I did hear VICTIM say ‘I’m totally fucking drunk right now”.

Johnson asks to see her breasts.

VICTIM kept asking Johnson why he was so paranoid, even though it did not sound like Johnson was paranoid at all.

VICTIM was rambling something about Johnson not helping her with the Jahovah’s Witnesses as I heard her crying. [REDACTED]

We went and spoke with Johnson in room #549. I asked Johnson if he had spent time with VICTIM today and he said yes. I told Johnson that VICTIM had made some allegations against him and that I was needed to ask him some questions. When I told him that I was going to read him his Miranda rights, Johnson refused to answer questions and said I could speak to his attorney.

Johnson calls Ben Goldberg.

Johnson did say that VICTIM had a lot to drink and that he was going to interview her father, [REDACTED.]

Since I was unable to determine if a crime had actually been committed, I advised Sergeant Babauta and documented what I found. Sergeant Babauta recommended that I email Sergeant Robinson the case report, which I later did.

According to public records, Johnson is 6’1 tall, and weighs 235 pounds. The victim in this case stands 5’4.

This police report is a public record regarding Tucson Police Department case #211208-0227. The audio clips, too, are public records, and are linked from this source on youtube.