Woman sent to jail for lying to, fleeing from police

Posted 7/23/19

The woman told the Wyoming Highway Patrol her name was Brandi Ortiz, a driver’s license in the car said she was Brandi Azure and her fingerprints indicated she was Tanya Johnson.

When she …

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Woman sent to jail for lying to, fleeing from police


The woman told the Wyoming Highway Patrol her name was Brandi Ortiz, a driver’s license in the car said she was Brandi Azure and her fingerprints indicated she was Tanya Johnson.

When she made her initial appearance in Park County Circuit Court this month, Judge Bruce Waters opted to cover all the bases.

“You are Brandi Azure, Brandi Ortiz and Tanya L. Johnson, is that correct?” Waters asked after calling her case on July 1.

The woman clarified that her real name was indeed Tanya L. Johnson. The 47-year-old Montana resident would ultimately receive a 30-day sentence for her attempt to mislead and then flee from troopers, and for having a prescription pill in her possession.

Johnson’s tortuous route to the Park County Detention Center began on the night of June 28, when her boyfriend was pulled over in Garland.

Trooper Blain Mollett stopped the vehicle for speeding, but the stop became more serious when Mollett noticed the strong odor of marijuana in the car. On top of that, the 37-year-old driver, Jesse Davison, had a suspended driver’s license, no valid auto insurance and expired registration — though the registration had been altered to appear current, charging documents allege.

Mollett began a search of the vehicle that would ultimately turn up a pipe with apparent marijuana and a single prescription pain pill, containing oxycodone. Inside the bag that held the pill, the trooper also reportedly found a Montana driver’s license for “Brandi Azure” — who’d just told the trooper her name was “Brandi Ortiz.”

However, before Mollett could confront the woman about the discrepancy, she fainted.

Mollett summoned an ambulance, which took her to Powell Valley Hospital to get her checked out. But once at the hospital, “she quickly left against medical advice,” charging documents from the patrol say.

“After I was through at the hospital, I knew I had given a false name,” Johnson explained in court. “So I asked the doctor if I was free to go and he said I could ...”

The freedom was short-lived, though: Mollett and fellow Trooper Bill Daugherty soon spotted Johnson walking down Division Street with Davison.

“[The woman] had attempted to change her appearance by removing her wig with longer black hair. She now had shorter brown hair,” charging documents from the patrol say.

After a short chase on foot, she was arrested and booked into the Cody jail as Azure; she even signed an application for a court-appointed attorney saying that was her name. But once her fingerprints came back as those of Tanya Johnson, the jig was up.

“I went along with it [being called Azure] and didn’t correct it until they came to take my photograph of my tattoos,” Johnson later explained in court. “So from that point forward, I let them know that my name was Tanya Johnson.”

At her court appearance earlier this month, Johnson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of interference with a peace officer and possession of a controlled substance in connection with the pill — though she disputed that it was actually hers.

“I understand that they’re trying to crack down on pill use, but … I don’t use pills and I don’t misuse prescriptions,” she said. “Although I understand why they have that law, I’m not trying to break that law and it’s not my pill; I have no idea where it came from; I’m not familiar with it at all.”

Judge Waters repeatedly suggested that Johnson plead not guilty to the charge so she could speak to an attorney — “you understand if you don’t like what I do today, there are no backsies?” he said at one point — but Johnson said she didn’t want to have to wait for a future court date.

“I would rather just plead guilty,” she said.

Deputy Park County Attorney Mike Greenwood recommended the 30-day sentence, citing her decision to give a false name and a prior conviction for obstructing a peace officer in Montana.

Johnson asked for a lesser sentence.

“I would just ask please that you show leniency and I apologize to the court for misrepresenting myself,” she told the judge. “I was afraid and did not want to go to jail, because the driver was smoking weed.”

Waters, however, accepted the prosecution’s recommendation.

“You weave an interesting tale,” the judge told Johnson, “but the facts are you wind up with two different IDs … and did flee from law enforcement. That’s a problem.”

In addition to the month-long sentence, Waters imposed fines and assessments totaling $1,105 while suspending another 150 days of jail time in favor of six months of unsupervised probation. According to the Park County Sheriff’s Office’s inmate roster, Johnson also has an active warrant from another jurisdiction that will need to be resolved.

As for Davison, the driver of the vehicle, he’s facing five misdemeanor charges: speeding, driving with no valid auto insurance for a second or subsequent time, possessing a controlled substance, altering or mutilating license plates and driving with a suspended license. Davison was not arrested, instead receiving citations ordering him to appear in Circuit Court on Aug. 6.

Johnson told the judge that she and Davison are in the process of moving to the Deaver area.