Ex-friend of former East Washington police chief sentenced for gun crimes

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A former friend of ousted East Washington police Chief Donald A. Solomon was sentenced today to five years in prison for firearms crimes.

Timothy B. Johnson, 41, of East Washington, said he sold FBI informants and agents silencers because he was living out of a truck and had to get money for a down payment on a house.

"I'm not going to defend my actions, because they're indefensible," Johnson told U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

But he added that the former chief told him to commit one act for which he wasn't charged -- firing a gun at the property of Mr. Solomon's ex-girlfriend.

In 2010 and 2011, when Johnson was accumulating and selling weapons and making silencers, he was romancing Mr. Solomon's ex-wife.

The two men were friendly enough to plot a home invasion against the chief's ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, Johnson said today -- a plan he declined to execute, favoring instead the drive-by shooting of the property.

"There was never an intention to hit the home," Johnson said.

Later he added, "Donald Solomon was the chief of police, and he told me to do it. I shouldn't have done it."

FBI Special Agent James Shearer testified at today's sentencing hearing that the agency got a tip that Johnson was involved in illegal gun activity.

A source and then an undercover agent bought six silencers which Johnson made with parts he ordered from a local machine shop.

Through recordings of telephone conversations, and eventually through a wiretap, agents learned that that Johnson was preparing "a hit team" to conduct the home invasion on the chief's behalf, Mr. Shearer said.

The agent added that Johnson boasted in one conversation, "We're better than a militia. We're prepared to act if need be."

Johnson pleaded guilty to four counts each of unlawful possession and unlawful transfer of firearms, including silencers. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a machine gun and one of sale of a firearm to a felon.

Mr. Solomon has pleaded guilty to extortion in relation to incidents in which he was paid to stand guard while FBI agents posing as drug dealers conducted a mock cocaine transaction.

He faces sentencing May 3.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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