Fugitive Tucson Man Wanted in Case Involving 32 Confiscated Guns

Philip Johnson

TUCSON – An arrest warrant has been issued for Philip Johnson, of Tucson, who was convicted by a Pima County jury for his role in defrauding the Pima County Superior Court to obtain firearms as a prohibited possessor.

The warrant was issued after his co-defendant, Emanuel Simpson, of Michigan was sentenced to two years of probation on November 19.

According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Johnson has multiple felony convictions dating back to 1997, and as a result, he is a prohibited possessor.

In early 2017, Johnson recruited Simpson to collect 32 guns held in Tucson Police custody that had been confiscated in a previous criminal court case. He bought Simpson a plane ticket to fly to Arizona and helped Simpson file an affidavit with the Pima County Superior Court falsely claiming ownership of the firearms. Simpson later picked up the guns from the Tucson Police Department in a van provided by Johnson and was driving the guns around Tucson with Johnson following. The Tucson Police Department discovered the scheme and seized the firearms before Johnson took back the van.

In August of 2019, Johnson fled from the courthouse before the jury returned the verdicts against him, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Johnson faces a sentence of 10 to 35 years in prison.

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