HOUSTON (Reuters) – A Houston-area man who was sentenced to six years in prison for stealing a large part of an auto parts factory was released from prison last week after serving just six months.
Christopher Johnson, who was found guilty of first-degree felony theft, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of tampering with government property.
He was sentenced in January.
Johnson, 39, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael L. Cavanaugh to six months of house arrest, six months probation and $5,000 restitution.
He will also be required to pay restitution to the U.H.
S Auto Parts Inc. He faces a minimum of five years in federal prison.
The theft of parts from the Houston-based Auto Parts Houston was one of several crimes that authorities said occurred over several years.
Johnson was charged in March 2016 with stealing parts from a facility near Houston’s downtown.
He stole parts from at least one other auto parts facility, including the one at Houston’s airport.
Johnson pleaded guilty in May to three counts of theft.
He received credit for time served, court records show.
Johnson also was charged with tampering with the FBI’s computer network.
Johnson told FBI agents he was going to make off with parts for his wife’s Toyota Corolla, court documents show.
He used a credit card he used at the time to make the purchase and paid with the stolen credit card.
Johnson admitted to investigators that he had been working as an auto part thief for several years, according to the court documents.
He said he was arrested in December 2016, but said he had not yet been caught.
Johnson is a certified metal mechanic who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Texas A&M University, according.
He worked for the company for a few years, court papers say.
Johnson had been incarcerated since May 2017 on two counts each of theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, tampering with a government computer and money laundering.
He was freed from custody on April 20 after serving six months behind bars, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Johnson’s attorneys had requested his release on the grounds that he has “an extensive criminal history that includes drug-related crimes, robbery, robbery-related offenses, and other charges,” court records say.
“Mr. Johnson has been charged with numerous felonies, and the mere fact that he was convicted for this is the ultimate reason he is free,” attorney Tom Jaffrey told the Chronicle.
Johnson could not be reached for comment.