A Riverhead and charged with driving while intoxicated with a loaded handgun in his car pleaded not guilty to 11 charges in Suffolk County Court on Friday.
According to Bob Clifford, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, Joe Johnson, of Southampton, pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges in a grand jury indictment.
The indictment said that Johnson was accused by the grand jury of Suffok County with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, "an armed violent felony," as well as one felony count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and one misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of a weapon; one count of driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, one count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor.
Johnson was also charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to maintain lane, failure to keep right, driving on the shoulder, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile phone, and failure to comply with a lawful order, all traffic infractions.
Johnson was and found not only allegedly to be driving drunk with a suspended license — but also unlawfully in possession of a loaded handgun, according to police. He also teaches fourth grade in the Riverhead Central School District.
Johnson had a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, police said.
Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney confirmed that Johnson is an employee of the district. He is employed as a fourth grade teacher at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School, Carney said.
"The Riverhead Central School District is monitoring the matter and will, of course, cooperate with the Southampton Village Police Department," Carney said in an email on Friday. "Mr. Johnson was administratively reassigned to his home, immediately after his arrest. The district will monitor the court proceedings and take appropriate action concerning this matter."
Carney added that the district is committed to hiring individuals who are "professionally and ethically fit to work with our children." In accordance with the SAVE act, Mr. Johnson was fingerprinted and cleared by New York State, she said.