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.
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.”
“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.”
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.