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Mount, a former assistant DA who has a hard time accepting that his former colleagues are involved in a far-flung conspiracy against Johnson, nevertheless sees problems with the way the case is being handled. "I think they're spending a lot of time and effort on bullshit," Mount says.
The jury may also question the appearance that the case is primarily being driven by a collective desire on the part of Fillion and others with an agenda. "I guess you can draw a cause and effect if you want," says the source, "but it isn't necessarily so.
"The day before his grand jury hearing, Johnson sounds bad. He slurs his words and seems unable to gather his thoughts. "I've been up for the last 48 hours," he explains.
He's also having a memory lapse. According to his resume, Johnson currently serves as "an executive officer in positions ranging from CEO to vice-president, on the board of various Central American and Guatemalan corporations."
But Johnson says he can't remember the names of any of his Central American and Guatemalan corporations. Then he says the positions are mostly honorary. Nor can he recall any details of his millions of dollars in government contracts. The South American turbine deals are real, he says slowly, emphatically. "That was being done with another government," he says. "Actually, it was Red China."
But they fell apart at the last minute, Johnson says, because "the Chinese government wouldn't deal with Shelby Ranly."
That the walls he has built may finally be closing in doesn't phase Johnson in the least. "I'm innocent," he says. Undeterred, he's plowing ahead with plans to sue the DA and others again in federal court, this time for violating his First Amendment rights by stealing his book manuscripts. A lack of cash isn't a problem, either, since he's starting a legal defense fund, and besides, Steve Bristol will soon send money to cover his living expenses and bail money, should he need it again.
It looks like he will. Even if he dodges this latest bullet, a barrage will surely follow from an increasingly irritable army of anti-Johnson partisans. "I am outraged that he has gone this long without paying child support," says assistant DA Merrill, one of Johnson's milder critics.
And knowing Johnson, he'll give them plenty of ammunition. Though he appears to have been flat broke for years, living off the generosity of others, his many claims of Texas-size deals have convinced everyone that he's got a bundle squirreled away somewhere. "What Al gets stuck on is, he ends up hoisted on his own petard," says an attorney familiar with Johnson's case.
Johnson remains convinced that one way or another, everything will work out fine. He's passed along his story to the Justice Department and the FBI, and he expects that the Mexican government will soon hand down indictments against Ranly and DA Johnny Holmes. And once the truth emerges, he can start wheeling and dealing. "As soon as I'm done with this shit, I'll make money again," he says. "I've gotten a lot of requests in Mexico and South America that I do business down there."
I'll probably do another business someplace and start my banks again," he concludes, then decides to offer a parting shot. "Preferably outside Johnny Holmes and the document fabrication factories in Harris County."
E-mail Bob Burtman at email@example.com.
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