• Couple admit mugging woman in parking lot
    By Eric Blaisdell
     | July 13,2013

    BARRE — The transient couple accused of robbing a woman of her purse in the Shaw’s parking lot in Berlin last month have pleaded guilty.

    In Washington County criminal court on Monday, Todd D. Johnson, 28, pleaded guilty to felony assault and robbery. He agreed to a sentence of 2½ to 5 years in prison. He awaits sentencing while the state obtains a victim impact statement from 77-year-old Alberta Herold. Johnson is being held without bail.

    On Thursday, Mary Ellen F. Juma, 30, pleaded guilty to felony assault and robbery and petit larceny. She agreed to a two-year deferred sentence on the robbery conviction and 40 days in prison on the larceny conviction. Juma awaits a pre-sentence investigation.

    Juma likely will not serve any more jail time after she is sentenced, because she is being held on $5,000 bail and has been incarcerated longer than 40 days. With the deferred sentence, Juma will be placed on probation for two years, and if she successfully completes probation, the assault and robbery conviction will be expunged.

    According to the police affidavit for the incident, Johnson was seen by witnesses June 5 “creeping up” on Herold in the parking lot, grabbed her purse and wrestled it away from Herold. Police say Herold received 10 stitches for a cut on her hand as a result of the attack. A witness said he saw Johnson holding a knife during the altercation.

    Johnson then ran back to a green Nissan Altima and was driven away by Juma.

    Later that night, police located the Nissan at the Hill Top Inn in Berlin and learned it was being used by Johnson and Juma.

    Both initially denied any knowledge of the robbery, but police said Johnson eventually admitted taking the purse and agreed to give the purse to police if officers agreed not to seize the car and the room.

    Johnson has a lengthy criminal record, including a federal conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2008 and a 2005 conviction for cocaine distribution, and he was convicted last year of felony battery on a public transit employee. A records check on Juma turned up no results.

    Charges against Johnson of violating conditions of release, possession of marijuana and possession of a narcotic were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

    When the pair were arraigned last month, Juma arrived in court with her and Johnson’s two children. After Juma was taken into custody, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department was in contact with the Department for Children and Families to pick up the children.



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