July 15, 2022
County of Siskiyou
Office of the District Attorney
J. Kirk Andrus, District Attorney
On Wednesday, July 13, 2022, a Siskiyou County Superior Court jury convicted Shanadoa Wayne Johnson, 44, of numerous charges for scamming many Siskiyou County citizens including several who were very elderly. The verdict also represented the culmination of a remarkable effort by the district attorney’s office, led by Chief Deputy District Attorney John Quinn and investigated by Supervising Investigator Doug Dahmen and Investigator James Clair. Their efforts uncovered many crimes, including evidence of crimes in many other jurisdictions that were unknown previously.
The defendant’s contact with the criminal justice system began with a conviction in federal court in Montana in 2008 for fraudulent misuse of a social security number to obtain benefits. Since that time, he has been convicted of 8 felonies and 10 misdemeanors, comprising crimes in 3 different states and 5 California counties, often for theft or financial elder abuse.
Most recently he has been wearing less facial hair.
The defendant was active in Siskiyou County between March and early August of 2020. He came to the attention of the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office after a complaint was made to the California State Licensing Board (CSLB). Almost immediately, numerous complaints came in from all over Siskiyou County. Some law enforcement officers who responded told complainants that it was a civil matter. Others took reports and forwarded them to the DA’s Office. The case was immediately assigned to Mr. Quinn, who began to observe the patterns in Johnson’s behavior.
The defendant’s pattern of behavior was as follows. He would approach people, mostly elderly citizens, at their homes and offer to do roofing work or driveway work. Sometimes he claimed to have worked at the property before, or that he was doing warranty work. He would do little or no work of any value, sometimes damaging the property in order to solicit more work to do, often leave the person’s property compromised by his effort, and extract large payments for the work he claimed to have done or claimed he would do. Johnson was not a licensed contractor, but told some of his victims that he was, and told some that he was boss of a paving business. To others he falsely claimed affiliation with reputable companies and individuals, even going so far as creating false business cards and car door magnets with fraudulent affiliations, and on one occasion providing a false contractor license number. He often left the victims’ properties in such a state that they had to hire qualified contractors to repair the damage—often at great expense. Johnson’s victims in Siskiyou County during this period ranged in age from 49 to 98. Many were in their 80’s and 90’s. Though many victims paid him according to the exorbitant demands, others balked. At such times he would often become demanding and cajoling, which could progress to angry and threatening behavior. He used different scams with different people, including requesting replacement checks for checks he had already cashed, or for checks that he then stole from the victim’s home—resulting in a double fraudulent loss for the victim. During these four months in 2020 the defendant extracted more than $100,000 from the known victims in Siskiyou County.
CDDA Quinn began to direct an investigation into the defendant’s accounts. Using court orders to obtain records, investigators traced checks deposited into the defendant’s accounts to find almost a dozen additional victims. Investigators were able to find a total of at least $510,408 of income obtained by the defendant from 2019 to 2021. Mr. Quinn reached out to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and elicited the help of Senior Special Agent Jason Hamdan to determine whether Johnson had paid income tax. That investigation revealed that the defendant had not filed a tax return in California, Oregon, Idaho or Washington since at least 2015. He also had not filed a federal tax return during that period except for a late filed federal return in 2019 where the defendant claimed $1 of income, but which allowed him to claim a federal Covid stimulus payment.
Siskiyou County’s last known victim reported to law enforcement on August 4, 2020. Mr. Quinn charged Johnson with felony charges on August 14, 2020. A felony arrest warrant was issued by Judge William J. Davis in the amount of $200,000. The defendant was believed to be in the Klamath Falls area after fleeing Siskiyou County. Unfortunately, the defendant’s presence in Klamath Falls was publicized, which caused him to flee that area and he was at large for some several months. In November he was arrested on arrest warrants from Siskiyou County, Deschutes County (OR) and Churchill County (NV), in a motel in Cowlitz County, Washington. Again, misfortune struck. Though Johnson was the Siskiyou DA’s top priority for arrest at the time, another Siskiyou County Judge authorized, without contacting the DA’s Office, Johnson’s release on his own recognizance with an appearance date in Yreka of December 15th. Predictably, Johnson failed to appear on December 15th and another warrant was issued for his arrest.
Shanadoa Johnson then remained at large until November 20, 2021, when he was arrested in Butte County, CA despite giving a false name to attempt to avoid arrest. During the preceding year he had continued to defraud elderly people at an alarming rate. In the Siskiyou County trial, Mr. Quinn put on evidence to show that he defrauded seniors in Humboldt County, Lake County, Nevada County, Churchill County (NV), and Klamath County (OR) during this period when he should have been in the Siskiyou County Jail. These 5 victims alone were defrauded for almost $85,000 including one 96 year old woman who couldn’t see very well and asked the defendant to fill out one of her checks to him in the amount of $88. He wrote the check for $8,800 and cashed the check at a bank.
In December 2021, while he was in the Siskiyou County Jail, Johnson applied for welfare benefits with the assistance of his girlfriend. He claimed that he had no money or income and was currently paying rent (though the jail does not charge rent). The welfare benefits were issued, and the money was placed in Johnson’s Siskiyou County Jail bank account for his use while in custody.
In June and July 2022, Mr. Quinn presented the case to a Siskiyou County Jury with Judge John Lawrence presiding. On Wednesday, July 13th, the jury convicted Johnson of 38 felonies and 16 misdemeanors. The felonies included first degree burglary (for entering the victims’ homes while they were present in order to steal), grand theft from an elder, misappropriation of construction funds, extortion, failure to file a tax return, perjury, welfare fraud, conspiracy, failure to appear in court, and using a false contractor’s number with intent to defraud. The misdemeanors included contracting without a license, advertising without a valid contractor’s license, charging and excessive down payment, misappropriation of construction funds, giving false information to a peace officer, and driving on a suspended license. Johnson faces a maximum sentence of at least 26 years and 8 months in state prison. Judge Lawrence will sentence the defendant on August 9, 2022.
This remarkable verdict was a team effort. The case was principally investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation with remarkable cooperation and assistance from Senior Special Agent Hamdan from FTB. Lori Miles from CSLB did an extensive investigation and CSLB also assisted by providing expert witnesses who testified to the value, or utter lack thereof, of the work Johnson had done at the properties in question. Cynthia Billingsley from District Attorney’s Victim Services was masterful in assisting victims and witnesses through the litigation process. Siskiyou County Human Services assisted with the welfare fraud investigation, resulting in 3 felony convictions. Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus lauded Chief Deputy John Quinn’s efforts. “This case was directed by Mr. Quinn, and it is doubtful that anybody anywhere could have done better. He was able to uncover a breadth of bad behavior by a serial fraudster to a degree that no other jurisdiction has approached. He developed information for other jurisdictions that provide a master class on how to prosecute perpetrators of fraud. The benefits of Mr. Quinn’s efforts on this one case will reverberate for years.”
Mr. Andrus also commended the jury for their hard work. “A paper-intensive case such as this can be tedious and difficult. We appreciate the good jurors who worked hard to process this information and render a just result. The facts of Johnson’s predatory deceptions, presented by the elderly witnesses, would make the blood boil. It is hard to imagine the depravity of a person who looks to steal from an elderly person every single day.”
The challenges of such a case include the level of investigative expertise necessary for successfully investigations. Such dogged investigations demand that officers do not stop at the first or second victim but work hard to find victims who may never report on their own. Such cases are also resource intensive, requiring massive document sifting and organizing, expert witnesses and litigation efforts.
Mr. Andrus also cautioned that there are certainly more victims, both in Siskiyou County and likely in all surrounding counties. He encouraged people: “Please do not be embarrassed to report such behavior, either from Shanadoa Johnson or from any other person. This is not your fault. This is a scam, not unlike every other kind of scam developed to prey upon the trusting human nature of good people. The victims in this case were experienced and intelligent and yet found themselves victimized by somebody who convincingly passed himself off as an expert. Whether you were victimized by this defendant, or any other person do not hesitate to report the behavior to any law enforcement officer, to the DA’s Bureau of Investigation, or to the California State Licensing Board.”