James Johnson, a veteran New Orleans criminal defense attorney, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court, admitting that he failed to report the illegal activity of his father, unlicensed bail bondsman Rufus Johnson.
His guilty plea, to a charge of misprision — or deliberate concealing — of a felony, ended a jury trial that started a week earlier with three defendants: Rufus Johnson, his son and Josephine Spellman, a longtime secretary.
Rufus Johnson and Spellman both pleaded guilty on Wednesday, leaving James Johnson as the lone defendant when the jury returned Monday after a hiatus due to a juror's illness.
Just three weeks from former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt trial, lead defense attorney Mel McDonald has asked to withdraw from the case.
In a brief Monday filing, McDonald only states that the request is made in "good cause" and that his withdrawal was "mandatory'' under an ethical rule.
Arpaio could face as much as six months in jail for disregarding a federal judge's order in a racial-profiling case. Arpaio, 84, already has been found in civil contempt, but prosecutors will have to prove willful defiance for a criminal conviction.
The trial is set to begin April 25 .