Riverhead teacher arrested on gun charges after DWI arrest


A Riverhead teacher was arrested on DWI and gun charges early Saturday in Southampton Village and he has since been removed from the classroom until the matter is handled in court, police and school officials said.

Joe Johnson, 38, a fourth-grade teacher at Phillips Avenue School, was arrested by village police about 3:30 a.m. Saturday on Hill Street, according to a police report. Mr. Johnson, of Southampton, was found to be illegally in possession of a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, police said.

He was charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a weapon, driving while intoxicated and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

He was processed and arraigned in Southampton Village Justice Court on Saturday and released on $3,000 bail.

The incident is still under investigation, police said.

District superintendent Nancy Carney confirmed Mr. Johnson is a teacher and said the district is “monitoring the matter and will, of course, cooperate with the Southampton Village Police Department.”

“Mr. Johnson has been administratively reassigned to his home, effective immediately,” Ms. Carney said. “Any further action, if and when appropriate, will be taken after the charges are addressed by the court.”

He earns $89,000 annually with the district, according to the latest reports available on

Active in the schools, Mr. Johnson also coached the Riverhead boys’ junior varsity basketball team and was the keynote speaker at the annual “Say No to Drugs” march in June 2006.

Later that same year he pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, reduced from DWI, according to court reports. He was fined $300 for the traffic infraction and had his license suspended for 90 days.

According to a newspaper report from last year, Mr. Johnson’s father, also Joe Johnson, was shot and killed in Bridgehampton in September 1979 when younger Joe Johnson was 6 years old. The killer, Jeff Jeffries of Tuckahoe, served five and a half years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in the early ’80s, according to the report.

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