Prosecutor off job indefinitely as investigation into online romance expands

Messages obtained by News 4 detail months of flirting and sexually charged banter before Mark Johnson’s relationship with Jamie Connolly abruptly ended.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 10:46 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Houston County Assistant District Attorney Mark Johnson is on administrative leave due to potential conflicts related to his online relationship with a drug defendant he could have prosecuted.

Facebook messages obtained by News 4 detail months of flirting and sexually charged banter before Johnson’s relationship with Jamie Connolly abruptly ended.

“I can’t wait to get you in my arms,” Johnson wrote to Connolly, known online as Jazmine Connolly, a habitual drug offender awaiting trial in a Houston County courtroom where Johnson is assigned.

Johnson, who is married, faces potential ethical and legal issues that threaten his career.

Houston County District Attorney Pat Jones told News 4 on Monday that he has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if Johnson has committed a crime. He previously said he reported the matter to the Alabama Bar Association.

Other agencies could also be investigating, including federal authorities.

“I can neither confirm nor deny our involvement,” FBI spokesperson Tommy Loftis said in an email.

Johnson will remain on leave until the SBI probe is complete, Jones said. He had previously been suspended for one week.

Chit-chat between Johnson and Connolly quickly escalated into sexual innuendo, with each expressing a desire to tryst.

However, nothing in their conversation indicates Johnson knew he communicated with a felon, who had pending Houston County charges.

Based on text messages provided by Connolly to News 4, the cyber romance began in late October.

By November’s first week Connolly messaged, “Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. I think maybe this weekend if you’re not doing anything maybe we should get together.”

The couple discussed a holiday season rendezvous, but their messages reveal no hint they ever met in person.

On January 10, their final chat appears to have taken place as Connolly said to Johnson, “I want to see you”, and he responded “me, too.”

The following day, law enforcement officers arrested Connolly on allegations that she possessed heroin and marijuana, and trafficked methamphetamine. Those charges are in Dale County and would not have been prosecuted by Johnson.

A few weeks later, Connolly, unable to post bond, wrote a letter to Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton detailing her relationship with Johnson.

This is not the first time Johnson has been investigated for messages he allegedly sent.

Jones confirmed to News 4 another incident involving a witness occurred “a couple of years ago,” but an internal investigation cleared Johnson.

David Harrison, Connolly’s attorney, said he may request Houston County charges she faces be dropped.

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office is handling Connolly’s Houston County cases but declined comment.

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