Former Sheriff Is Facing Charges


A former Wells County Sheriff is in trouble with the law.

Johnny Zip Lawson faces felony charges.

Alexus Arthur reports.

Wells County residents are not pleased to hear former Sheriff Johnny Zip Lawson was arrested Friday…spent the weekend behind bars…before being released from jail yesterday.

He now faces felony charges for conspiracy to deliver meth and bribery.

“Oh it’s terrible.” said Shirley Teske, Fessenden Resident.

Some didn’t think he was the right fit to lead county law enforcement to begin with.

“I want the old sheriff back.” said Jeff Rodeckery, Fessenden Resident.

“We wanted the former sheriff and he should’ve just been given the job and instead they had an election.” said Teske.

Others are just baffled the county’s one-time top lawman himself is now in trouble with law.

“He didn’t come from around here so I don’t know what to think.” said Dylan Rudel, Fessenden Resident.

The 41-year-old former sheriff abruptly resigned his office last month…citing personal reasons. 

Now he awaits a court appearance after an investigation.

“On May 26th, 2017, North Dakota BCI did swear out a complaint against Johnny Zip Lawson.” said Kathy Murray, Wells County States Attorney.

That afternoon a judge signed a warrant and law enforcement began to search for Lawson.

“He was not anywhere in Wells County that we could locate.” said Murray.

It was 6:30 that night when Bismarck police spotted Lawson and arrested him.

“It’s a shame that you take a trusted person like the sheriff and find out that he’s suspected of other things.” said Jeff Davis, Fessenden Resident.

Lawson has five pending charges. Count 1 is Conspiracy to deliver Meth.

“It’s sad.” said Teske.

He’s also accused of Bribery and providing false information to a law enforcement officer.

“I read the paper and I’m like wow.” said Rodeckery.

Then there’s Neglect of duty by a public official.

“You expect a little integrity.” said Davis.

And ingestion of Meth.

“That’s appalling. How could you do that?” said Rodeckery.

Now he’s at the mercy of the judicial system.

“The defendant having no prior criminal history at that point did ask for a PR bond and honorable Judge granted him what is called a 25,000 unsecured bond with the condition that witnesses would not be contacted.” said Murray.

Next up for Lawson…A preliminary hearing…with a date yet to be determined.

“A few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.” said Davis.

At the Wells County Courthouse, for KX News, I’m Alexus Arthur.

The Wells County Courthouse asks that anyone who has information regarding the case to call 547-3122.

Until the hearing, Lawson will continue to reside at the Rugby jail.

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