Man arrested for WJHG vandalism held without bond for probation violation
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The man who was arrested in connection with the vandalism that happened at our station made his first court appearance in Bay County on Friday. Nicholas Allen Johnson, 51, of Panama City Beach is charged with one count of criminal mischief involving damage greater than $1,000 and one count of offense against computer or computer networks greater than $5,000. The crime happened Sunday night around 9:30 p.m., wires were cut and removed at nine of WJHG’s satellite dishes, taking all of the station’s networks off the air for more than a day.
Johnson could face up to five years for the criminal mischief charge and up to 15 years for the offense against computer networks charge.
Those two felony charges are also in violation of Johnson’s two-year probation that started in July of 2021 for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Court records show in April 2021, Johnson pointed a foot long piece of broken glass at his roommate making stabbing motions, saying he was a “German spy.” He pleaded no contest to that charge.
On Friday, County Judge William Dyer held Johnson without bond for violating his probation. Dyer also set bond for the two recent charges. $10,000 for criminal mischief and $50,000 for offense against computer or computer networks. Judge Dyer said Johnson’s bond for the probation violation could be reviewed and changed by Judge Ana Garcia. Johnson is expected back in court on Saturday for the probation violation. His next court appearance for the two charges in the WJHG case is set for December 6 at 9 a.m. at the Bay County Courthouse. He will also be assigned a public defender.
During the court appearance, Judge Dyer also ordered Johnson to have no contact with WJHG. Johnson responded, “you said no bond, so yeah.” Dyer said, “well there’s certainly telephones at the jail. So when I say no contact it also means no telephone calls, no emails.”
According to the arrest report, Johnson was found near NewsChannel 7 on Front Beach Road Thursday afternoon. The report said he admitted to damaging cables to the satellite dishes and cables on a telephone pole outside of the station.
Deputies report Johnson said he damaged the satellite cables so he could get the attention of cable companies so they would clean up all of the loose cables around the community and improve transmission signals. On Halloween night, around 9:30, our surveillance cameras caught video of a man vandalizing the cables to the satellite dishes at the station. When an employee saw we were not receiving signals from the networks, the employee went outside to find out what was going on. The employee told deputies there was a man in the parking lot, who said he was from Tyndall Air Force Base and was told to cut wires due to a power issue. Authorities said there is evidence directly linking Johnson to the vandalism.
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