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‘Bogus’ builder arrested
U.S. Marshal A. Jeffrey Hedden announces the arrest of Mississippi fugitive in West Knox County


It could have been a scene from “The Fugitive” or “U.S. Marshals” as a federal fugitive was found hiding under a rental home off Ebenezer Road claiming he wasn’t running, just looking for a level.

A. Jeffrey Hedden, U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee, announced the arrest of Robert Shannon Johnson.

Johnson was being sought by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office on allegations of numerous incidents of home repair fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

Johnson, 30, is a white male who operated a construction business in Jackson, Miss., known as Expert Foundation Company. During the investigation leading up to his being charged with home repair fraud, Johnson fled the state of Mississippi and disappeared.

Early this month the U.S. Marshals Service’s Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and other agencies in that state in conducting “Operation Hammer Strike,” which was a joint effort aimed at arresting 14 people that had been charged in home repair fraud cases in the areas of Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Between July 7 and 21 of this year 12 of the 14 people wanted in “Operation Hammer Strike” have been arrested and leads on the other wanted persons have been sent throughout the country. One of those leads was directed to the Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force when information was developed that Johnson might be hiding in the Knoxville area.

Members of the Smoky Mountains Task Force began investigating the lead on Johnson in the Knoxville area and determined that Johnson was traveling throughout the southeast, but appeared to have moved the Expert Foundation Company field operations to Louisiana, while setting up a headquarters in West Knoxville at a rental house at 2205 Bishops Bridge Road.

At about 10:15 p.m., Sunday night, the Smoky Mountains Task Force received a tip that a several persons, including a man matching Johnson’s description, were moving household goods and equipment from the suspect house off Bishops Bridge Road.

Deputy U.S. Marshals and Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the location and observed Johnson standing in the open garage of the residence. As the officers approached the garage Johnson ran into the house and then out a rear door. He was located hiding under the house in a crawl space and arrested.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Becky Gambill said, “When we found Johnson under the house he told us he was under the house looking for a level.”

Hedden said, “I’m very proud that our Smoky Mountains Task Force was able to help our colleagues in Mississippi capture Johnson, who appears to have made victims of those already suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.”

Hedden added that “It must have been a very special level that caused Johnson to run from approaching officers just to get it, but now instead of getting that special level he’ll face the scales of justice.”

Johnson is now the 13th target of “Operation Hammer Strike” that has been arrested and he is in custody at the Knox County Jail pending his extradition to Mississippi.

The Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force was created in the spring of 2004 as a joint effort between the U.S. Marshals Service, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Blount, Cocke, Greene, Hamilton, Knox, Union and Washington County sheriff’s offices, and the Chattanooga, Knoxville and Morristown police departments. The Smoky Mountains Task Force operates offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Greeneville.

The primary goal of the Smoky Mountains Task Force is the safety and security of the people of the respective areas of coverage by the timely and safe arrest of violent federal, state, and local fugitives through inter-agency cooperation and sharing of resources.

Further information about the active cases and efforts of both the Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service can be located at www.usmarshals.gov or by contacting Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Warren Mays at 865-545-4182, ext. 257.

 

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