Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Leo Johnson Jr.

Real Name: Leo Johnson Jr.
Aliases: None known
Wanted For: Fraud, Obstruction of Justice, Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, Conspiracy to Commit RICO
Missing Since: September 24, 1986


Details: Undercover police officer Bruce Hackert was part of the northern Virginia Regional Drug Task Force. While undercover, he posed as a gun dealer. On May 15, 1986, he drove from Washington D.C. to Arlington, Virginia to meet an old client, Tony Mitchell. He planned to exchange the guns for cocaine. Mitchell was one of the leaders of a nationwide ring of "confidence men". He had also been arrested for dealing narcotics, but had not been convicted. The two men had done business before and Mitchell believed that Hackert was trustworthy. The transaction went smoothly, but as Hackert left, several officers arrived and arrested Mitchell. He had been duped in a sting operation. Outside of the apartment, Mitchell's wife and father-in-law were also arrested. Their Mercedes was also impounded.
Mitchell was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and distribution of cocaine. Hackert thought that the arrest was the end of the story; in fact, it was just the beginning. Three weeks after the arrest, Hackert heard from an informant that Mitchell wanted him dead, unless he could arrange for his charges to be dismissed. Mitchell was willing to pay him a $40,000 bribe to get the charges dropped.
On June 11, Hackert met secretly with Mitchell to discuss the terms of the deal. The meeting was surveilled by several police officers to make sure that everything went okay. Mitchell asked for the charges to be dropped against himself, his wife, and his father-in-law. Hackert agreed to drop the charges for $40,000. However, he asked for some cash upfront; Mitchell agreed to give him $5,000. The two agreed that Hackert would get the charges dropped by telling the other officers that Mitchell was his informant and that he was letting him off the hook so that he could work on other cases for him.
Hackert enlisted the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Together, they created fictitious documents that showed that Mitchell's charges had been dropped. They obtained documents, doctored them, and put seals on them to make them appear legitimate. When the documents were ready, Hackert met with Mitchell, Mitchell's wife Ruby, and her father Steve Ristick at a local restaurant. Ristick wanted to make sure that Hackert was legitimate, as he was going to give Hackert a lot of money to help dismiss the charges. After asking Hackert several questions, Ristick gave Mitchell the "O.K." to go through with the deal.
Mitchell and Hackert went to Hackert's car where they exchanged money and court documents. Hackert also gave Mitchell the number for the clerk's office so that he can call and confirm that the case was dismissed. He was unaware that an FBI agent was on the other line at the "clerk's office".
After the transaction, Hackert was preparing to arrest Mitchell for attempted bribery when he received a surprising phone call from Mitchell. He told Hackert that he had other people who were willing to give him money so that he could dismiss their burglary charges. Hackert agreed and began meeting people from all over the country who were looking to have charges dropped. Mitchell arranged a meeting between Hackert and an associate of the crime ring from Cleveland, Miller Avano.
Avano asked him several questions such as: how he was going to take care of the attorneys; who he was going to contact in the police department; and how he was going to complete the task of "taking care of" the charges. Hackert explained that he would make all of them his informants. Avano asked for proof and he told him that he would get him paperwork that would show that the charges were dismissed. He believed it and gave Hackert $10,000 as a down payment.
Mitchell spread the word of Hackert's services. In one meeting, Hackert met and photographed nineteen of his clients. He claimed that he needed the photographs for his documents. Over a four-month period, the authorities received over $150,000 for services thought to have been rendered. As time went on, Hackert was admitted into the "inner circle" of the crime organization. He even babysat Mitchell's children on occasion.
In mid-September of 1986, after four months had gone by, it was decided to finally end the charade. Hackert was concerned because too many people from throughout the country were being brought in. He was afraid that someone in the organization would find out that none of it was true. He and other investigators were also afraid that if some of the members from other jurisdictions found out about the sting operation, they would be able to easily escape.
Hackert figured out the perfect way to get everyone together: he had a retirement party for himself at a hotel in Arlington on September 25. Several of the employees and attendees were undercover officers. They also had surveillance cameras within the hotel to capture everything. That evening, carloads of crime members arrived at the hotel. They came from all over the country; almost every invited guest attended. The party lasted for about three hours, with the crime members none the wiser.
Finally, at 11PM, Hackert made one last toast. In the middle of the speech, one of the crime members said "Is this when we all get arrested?" Hackert joked and said "No, that's later". Then, at the end of the speech, he announced that they were all under arrest. Officers entered the party and began arresting the members. One of the older members faked a heart attack; however, he was cleared medically and arrested as well. Everyone at the party was shocked that none of their charges had been dropped.
Seventeen of Hackert's nineteen clients were charged and convicted on a wide variety of criminal charges. Mitchell was convicted of the illegal possession of cocaine and firearms, as well as the attempted bribery of a police officer. He was sentenced to nine years in prison. Two members of the crime ring that failed to attend Hackert's party remain at large. They are fifty-year-old Dewey Demetro and thirty-three-year-old Leo Johnson Jr.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the April 25, 1990 episode.
Results: Captured. On June 5, 1990, Leo Johnson Jr. turned himself in to authorities in Pontiac, Michigan.
On June 21, 1990, the FBI apprehended Dewey Demetro in Kansas City, Kansas. The FBI became suspicious after Demetro's relatives began moving from one location to another. This occurred shortly after his case aired. The FBI was able to learn of his whereabouts through his relatives.