Warrant details alleged theft of computers destined for needy

Typically, computers donated to the Milford Technology Advisory Council (MTAC) find their way to needy residents.

One computer system — an older system including a monitor and keyboard — was given to a veteran who lives in Devon.

Another — a refurbished Macintosh — was given to a single mother about eight months ago. Among other things, the computer lets her children access their homework, and lets her stay in touch with teachers.

This is what usually happens to the computers donated to MTAC, a volunteer group that takes in older computers, refurbishes them and then distributes them to people and organizations in need.

That’s one of the reasons that group members followed up with police when they found that between 50 and 70 of the computers donated by the Board of Education last year were missing.

An investigation led to an arrest warrant being issued for former Milford Technology Advisory Council volunteer Brent Johnson, 24, of Milford. Johnson is accused of removing some of the computers from a storage facility and attempting to sell them online and at his place of work in Redding.

The Milford Technology Advisory Council is made up of about 20 volunteers who recondition city computers that are no longer used and those that are donated to the city.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the Milford Board of Education donated numerous computer systems from various schools in 2012. Those included iMacs, HPs and Dells, plus monitors, keyboards, mice and power cords. The computers were stored at Hacienda Storage on Old Gate Lane.

Volunteers remove the donated computers, work on them at home, and then turn them in to be redistributed through the United Way of Milford.

This January, volunteer Edward Abbazia noted iMacs missing from the storage area.

Dan Rascoll, MTAC coordinator, had some discussions with Johnson about the missing computers and got vague answers, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Rascoll then got suspicious that the missing computers might be listed for sale on craigslist or eBay. He went online and found two listings in the local area for systems similar to the missing Milford computers. They were listed for $225 each, cash and carry.

On March 21, police searched the home of Brent Johnson, where he lives with his father, Gary Johnson, who is director of the United Way.

When the police officer arrived at the home, Gary Johnson answered and said, “Christ, I thought this was taken care of,” the police officer noted in his report.

None of the missing computers were found in the Johnson home, but police seized two of Brent Johnson’s personal computers.

Police contacted Gary and Brent’s attorney, Christopher Carveth, who again said he thought the matter had been taken care of.

Brent Johnson worked at the Meadow Ridge senior living facility in Redding as an IT coordinator until April. A co-worker there said she had seen Johnson working on an iMac in his office. She also said Johnson tried to sell similar computers to other employees for $50 to $300.

Police have estimated the value of the missing computers at $15,000.

On May 25, Brent Johnson voluntarily surrendered to police on larceny charges. He was released on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Milford Superior Court on June 18.