On October 10, 2018 Aaron Lawrence Johnson was found guilty by Judge Broughton Earnest of all fifteen (15) charges filed against him after an all day trial in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County. The case was prosecuted by Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches.
The charges stemmed from a traffic stop made by Deputy First Class Michael Piasecki of the Queen Anne’s County Office of the Sheriff on May 28, 2018. On that day at 8:11 PM DFC Piasecki was on routine patrol in the area of Route 304 and Fogwell Road in Centreville conducting speed enforcement. At that time and location he observed a Mercedes passenger car with Virginia registration plates travelling 62 MPH in the posted 50 MPH zone. He pulled the vehicle over and identified the driver as Aaron Lamont Johnson. Mr. Johnson said he was driving from his home in Magnolia, Delaware to visit his mother in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and that the car belonged to his brother. Mr. Johnson was unable to tell DFC Piasecki his mother’s address and DFC Piasecki smelled a faint odor of raw marijuana coming from the car while speaking with Mr. Johnson.
DFC Piasecki is a K9 handler. Mr. Johnson was asked to get out of his car so DFC Piasecki’s K9 partner “Zora” could perform an open air sniff of the vehicle. K9 Zora alerted to the odor of narcotics in Mr. Johnson’s vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle done by DFC Piasecki and Deputy Justin Custis revealed a loaded 9mm caliber, Luger, Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol, with a round in the chamber, directly underneath the driver’s seat. The firearm was positioned with barrel facing the rear of the vehicle and the handle facing the front. The deputies also recovered numerous plastic glassine bags containing a large amount of smaller, dime size Ziploc glassine baggies, some of which had an image stamped on them of a red apple with the number “3434,” and a 500 count bag of small rubber bands. Further, two enclosed cardboard boxes of identical appearance and size were also found in the vehicle. One of these boxes was empty. The other was full of small wax paper folds and contained a piece of clear drinking straw that had been cut so as to be used as a scoop. It contained an off-white powdery residue. Also recovered from the vehicle was a box of .45 caliber handgun ammunition, and pieces of a broken scale. Mr. Johnson was standing at the back of his vehicle while the deputies were searching the vehicle and as DFC Piasecki went to place Mr. Johnson in handcuffs, DFC Piasecki noticed a large knotted sandwich bag containing an ounce of marijuana on the ground directly at Mr. Johnson’s feet.
The drugs and firearm were sent to the Maryland State Police Crime Lab. The results of that testing confirmed that the items were heroin and marijuana and the firearm was found to be operable.
At the time of his arrest Mr. Johnson was on parole in Delaware for Manslaughter, Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, and Second Degree Assault. Due to those prior convictions Mr. Johnson was prohibited from possessing a regulated firearm and ammunition.
He was charged with fifteen counts including Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime, Distribution of CDS with a Firearm, Possession of a Regulated Firearm with a Felony Conviction, and related charges. At trial DFC Piasecki and Deputy Custis testified about the locations and items recovered during the search of the vehicle and the substance found at Johnson’s feet as he stood on the roadside. DFC Christopher Schwink, a member of the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force, testified as an expert witness at trial and stated that the glassine bags found in Mr. Johnson’s car are used by drug dealers for packaging small amounts of drugs for street level sales. He stated that a drug dealer would use the straw to scoop powder heroin and deposit it into the wax paper fold which would then be placed into one of the small glassine bags. Ten individual bags would then be grouped together into a ‘bundle’ by using a small rubber band. A drug dealer could then group these bundles into ‘logs’ containing 10-15 bundles, and these logs could be grouped into larger ‘bricks.’
Mr. Johnson was subsequently convicted of all 15 criminal charges. After his conviction Mr. Cuches filed the State’s Notice of its intent to seek a Mandatory Minimum sentence. A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered and Johnson is being held at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center pending sentencing, which is scheduled for December 11, 2018.
Below is a link to photos of items seized in this case: