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By September, however, relations with Ranly had become severely strained. She stopped paying his child support, and they stopped communicating. They've been fighting ever since, engaging in a brutal he-said, she-said war. He says she's a Mafia-connected money launderer who consorts with drug dealers and killers; she says he's a delusional, violent alcoholic who should be institutionalized.
Oddly, though, neither seemed in any hurry to dissolve the companies they'd formed and go their separate ways. Without Johnson's knowledge, Ranly negotiated a $1.3 million contract with the Mexican prison system for drug and explosive detection devices, using the name Al Johnson International. Johnson and Hancock hooked up with Texas investor Gary Wadkins (recently convicted in a wire-fraud and money-laundering scam) and pursued the Guatemalan enterprise also under the Al Johnson International banner.
On December 18, 1992, Johnson wrote a letter to Hancock suggesting that their partnership be terminated. Two weeks later, on New Year's Eve, he wrote Ranly the first in a series of letters accusing her of undermining his personal and professional life, with multiple vague references to past arms deals, ongoing negotiations and "unsavory associates." Ranly responded in kind.
When he returned from Guatemala in February, Johnson found his office in disarray and he accused Ranly of looting his possessions, including his 18 machine guns. They had a screaming match and physical contact. Ranly filed an assault charge that cost Johnson a conviction and $500 fine.
The following month, Johnson contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI, stating that Ranly had stolen his weapons and asking for help in recovering them. His pleas were ignored. Meanwhile, Ranly had packaged the guns in boxes marked "parts" and brought them to the Mail Center on Westheimer, from where they were to be shipped to an Arizona address formerly used by Johnson. He learned the location of the guns from Ellis and contacted authorities, and the DA's Office confiscated them on March 18.
The next day, a grand jury indicted Johnson on a bad check charge. It was all downhill from there.
If Al Johnson is right, Shelby Ranly has the power of God, or at least one of the archangels. Through her connections in the DA's Office, he says, she arranged to have the weapons seized to put him out business. She conspired to have the bad check indictment brought against him, then notified his Latin American contacts that he'd been charged with a felony, killing the deals he was about to close. She forged documents to make it appear she had the right to do business as Al Johnson International, then made off with a pile of cash from the detector deal in Mexico. She sabotaged his visitation rights, destroyed his second marriage, ultimately worked her black magic to have him jailed for non-support.
Johnson knows it sounds overstated, but he won't budge from the story, which became the basis for a slew of court actions. Though he's been ridiculed and punished for his stance one judge wrote in an opinion that his allegations "border on the delusional and the paranoiac" he still refuses to back down.
He may not have the documents, but Johnson does have a few facts on his side. The bad check charge, for example, was brought by Gail Czernohus, a contractor who claimed he'd bounced a $50,000 payment for building inspection services in 1990. That Czernohus had no record of payment to the subcontractors who'd done the work and had waited three years to file the charge was suspicious enough. That she worked for Ranly might have tipped the prosecutors that something more was involved.
In fact, on March 2, Ranly had written a letter to an assistant DA, urging her to proceed with the case. "Please put this on the 'Hot Priority' list if you can. Mr. Johnson plans to leave the country."
Ranly first denied having anything to do with the bad check charge. Asked about the letter, she waffled. "I don't remember writing that," she said. "I'm not saying I didn't."
Her self-injection in that case continued through December, when she wrote a letter to prosecutor John Boone asking that Johnson's bond be revoked. According to Ranly, he had shot two holes in her front door, stolen her computer and stock certificates in Al Johnson International (which she claimed were worth $150,000) and engaged in bribery with the Mexican government. "Mr. Johnson is armed and dangerous," she wrote.
The day before, Johnson was jailed on a contempt charge for failure to pay child support. His bond was revoked on January 27, 1994, and he served eight months before his release. During that time, the bad check charge was dropped because the case was too weak to prosecute.
Ranly again compounded Johnson's legal woes in October 1996. She wrote the state Attorney General's Office suggesting that Johnson had access to $51 million in GNMAs "to finance his various offshore investments in Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru." She also stated that Johnson had received income for legal work he'd been doing.
Johnson's assets were especially relevant by then, because he'd been booked the previous month on a felony charge of criminal non-support. Ranly's implication was clear: Johnson could afford to make his child support payments, but wasn't.
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