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Southampton Man Facing DWI, Gun Charges Removed from Riverhead School Payroll

School superintendent says teacher Joe Johnson will be off the payroll through February.

Joe Johnson, a Southampton Village resident and fourth grade Riverhead teacher charged with driving while intoxicated with a loaded gun in his car has been removed from the school district's payroll through February.

"Mr. Johnson has been removed from the district’s payroll through February 1, 2013," Riverhead Central School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said in an email Wednesday. "The district will continue to monitor the proceedings involving Mr. Johnson in Suffolk County Court and will take appropriate action upon the conclusion of the matter in criminal court."

Johnson was pulled over on April 21 in Southampton Village and found not only to be driving drunk with a suspended license — but also unlawfully in possession of a loaded handgun, according to police. Johnson had a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, police said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in May.

Johnson was initially placed on special assignment through the end of the school year. Carney said on Wednesday that Johnson is no longer on special assignment and is not being paid.

Riverhead School Board President Ann Cotton-DeGrasse said in August, "He will not be in the classroom," during the current school year.

The board voted at a meeting in recent months to appoint a replacement fourth grade teacher to Johnson's class for the entire 2012-2013 school year, DeGrasse said.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to 11 charges in Suffolk County Court in May; according to court documents, Johnson, who is represented by Riverhead attorney John Ciarelli, is due back in court on Oct. 31 before Judge James F.X. Doyle.

The indictment said that Johnson was indicted by the grand jury of Suffok County with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, "an armed violent felony," as well as one felony count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. He also charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a weapon, DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Johnson was also charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to maintain lane, failure to keep right, driving on the shoulder, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile phone, and failure to comply with a lawful order, all traffic infractions.

Carney confirmed after the arrest that Johnson is an employee of the district, who was working at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School.

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