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Published: Wednesday, 11/1/2006

Nationwide dragnet nabs local fugitive

A former Toledo man who was arrested last week on an 11-year-old outstanding warrant is among the fugitives nabbed in a nationwide law enforcement dragnet that will be the subject of a major announcement tomorrow by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Russell Johnson, 49, was wanted for an alleged probation violation that stems from a 1991 conviction in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

A resident of Florida, Johnson was arrested by officers with Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force on Oct. 22 at a mobile home park at 3510 Consaul St. in East Toledo.

Mark Herr, a Lucas County assistant prosecutor, said Johnson's arrest was part of a dragnet involving federal, state, and local authorities to apprehend suspects wanted in homicides, sexual assaults, gang-related crimes, kidnappings, major drug offenses, and crimes against children and the elderly.

"He is a very high-profile figure,'' said Mr. Herr, who was informed of the arrest by U.S. Marshals involved in the operation.

The Justice Department is planning to announce the arrest of Johnson and others tomorrow in Washington as part of an effort to track down and arrest fugitives from justice, Mr. Herr said.

Johnson appeared yesterday before Judge Frederick McDonald on the probation violation charge. The hearing was continued to tomorrow to allow the defendant to consult with a court-appointed attorney.

He was indicted in 1990 on 20 counts of sexual battery and convicted in December, 1990 on one of those felony offenses.

Judge McDonald sentenced him to the maximum two-year prison term in January, 1991, and released him about three months later on shock probation. He was placed on probation.

The arrest warrant was issued in October, 1995 after he allegedly failed to report to the court's probation department.

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