Gardner man with past exotic pet problems is charged with trying to hire hit man


The Kansas City Star

Rheuben Clifford Johnson III

Johnson County prosecutors on Thursday accused a Gardner man of attempting to hire a hit man to kill his former wife.

Rheuben Clifford Johnson III, 49, was charged in Johnson County District Court with solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

According to Johnson County court records, Johnson and his former wife were divorced in January. The case had been filed in 2009.

Joseph Dioszeghy, an Olathe attorney who represents Johnson in the divorce case, appeared on his behalf on the criminal case Thursday afternoon.

Afterwards, Dioszeghy said that in spite of the lengthy divorce proceeding, Johnson had never expressed any hostility toward his former wife.

“It really does shock me,” he said of the solicitation allegation.

It was not the first time Johnson appeared in Johnson County District Court.

In 1996, He was charged with abusing a pet monkey. In an earlier case, a judge ordered him to remove a cougar from Olathe after the city cited him for keeping the 200-pound animal.

And last year, Johnson County prosecutors filed a civil case against Johnson and his bee keeping and pest removal business, alleging that he violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

That case, which is pending, alleged that Johnson was not properly licensed with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The suit also alleges that Johnson engaged in deceptive acts and practices in dealings with several customers who hired his company to remove bees or wasps from their property.

Bond in Johnson’s latest case is set at $1 million.

Olathe police arrested him Tuesday night in an ongoing investigation that started May 18, said Sgt. Grant Allen, a spokesman for the Olathe Police Department.

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