BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When Cullman County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Preston Johnson in October 2019, officers asked a judge to consider a bond higher than the recommended bail schedule.
Johnson, 37, was arrested after officers reported finding him with a stolen car, loaded AR-15, several knives, meth, needles and other drug paraphernalia.
He was charged with receiving stolen property 1st degree, possession with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of controlled substance, and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
In a bail request filed by the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, deputies asked for a higher bail because Johnson was found with weapons and had a criminal record dating back two decades.
The most serious charges, receiving stolen property 1st degree and possession with intent to distribute, comes with a recommended bail between $5,000 and $30,000. A Cullman County judge gave Johnson a $40,000 secured bond and $15,000 unsecured bond. A family member used their property to cover his bond and Johnson was released on November 1.
Three months later, and weeks before he was to be in court on the Cullman County charges, Johnson was arrested, accused of murdering a Kimberly police officer.
Johnson’s criminal record in Alabama spans twenty years and includes a handful of convictions including forgery, theft and drug possession.
He served time in county jails and state and federal prisons and has spent most of his adult life on probation.
Johnson’s first conviction was in 2000 at the age of 17. He pleaded guilty to giving a false name to a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to 28 days of hard labor in Cullman County, to be served on the weekends.
The next year, Johnson was indicted on forgery charges and eventually pleaded guilty to signing someone else’s name on checks for $25 and $75. He was given three years probation.
In 2003, Johnson was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. According to court records, Johnson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 24 months probation.
He spent Christmas 2004 in the Cullman County jail after he was arrested and charged with theft, criminal mischief and possession of burglar tools. After spending 159 days in the county jail, Johnson pleaded guilty to theft 1st degree and was given a 15-year suspended sentence and 3 years of probation, according to court records.
Over the next few years, Johnson was in and out of the Cullman County Jail serving time for possession of marijuana and probation violations from failed drug tests, according to court records.
An arrest in Winston County in 2009 led to his first stint in state prison and ultimately, federal prison. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, carrying a concealed weapon and theft of property. According to court documents, he pleaded guilty to the drug charge and was sentenced to 5 years in state prison. A few months later, Johnson was found guilty of possession/receiving a controlled substance out of Cullman County and sentenced to an 18 month split sentence, according to ADOC. He was released on probation in August 2012.
While Johnson was in ADOC custody, he was indicted in federal court on the firearms charge out of Winston County. He was found guilty of felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 30 months plus one day in federal prison. Because of time served, Johnson spent 12 months and one day in federal custody.
Johnson was accused of violating the terms of his supervised release in November 2015 and sent back to federal prison for 12 months and one day. According to federal court documents, Johnson’s violations included failing to report to required drug tests, using drugs, and being arrested.
In June 2017, Johnson pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and sentenced to 75 months in state prison, according to court documents. He was released on parole in July 2018, according to ADOC, but after pleading guilty to a few traffic violations in January 2019, Johnson went back to state prison for 45 days.
According to his ADOC record, Johnson’s end of sentence on parole was October 31, 2019, the same day he was arrested in Cullman County.
Cullman County did not seek state charges after officers reported finding Johnson with a loaded rifle. Instead, the Sheriff referred the case to ATF.
An ATF spokesman said the department doesn’t comment on pending investigations but added generally when a case is referred to them by a local department, it’s investigated and if thought to warrant federal prosecution, will be presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
WBRC FOX6 On Your Side Investigators reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to see if Johnson’s case had been presented, but it also does not confirm nor deny pending investigations or possible cases.