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Business Observer Friday, May 8, 2020 3 months ago

FCCI Insurance CEO arrested for alleged battery on officer, other charges

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Craig Johnson, who has led FCCI for nearly a decade, denies the allegations.

Craig Johnson, chairman, CEO and president of FCCI Insurance Group, one of the Sarasota-Manatee region’s largest employers, has been arrested for allegedly resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. Johnson, authorities say, was both physically and verbally abusive to officers after a disagreement at a restaurant, and said officers would “pay” because of his friendship with the Sarasota sheriff.

Johnson, in a statement emailed to the Business Observer May 8, denies the allegations. 

The CEO of FCCI since April 2011, Johnson, 51, was charged by Sarasota police officers stemming from an incident that took place May 7 at Wicked Cantina, just north of downtown Sarasota. The owners and employees of the restaurant, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the Sarasota Police Department, asked Johnson and two people he was with to leave, “due to their high level of intoxication and that they were instigating arguments with other customers.”

When police arrived, around 9:40 p.m. May 7, Johnson allegedly “continued to refuse to leave and became aggressive,” the report states. Police say Johnson then swung a closed fist at one officer, missing contact, and then shoved two officers.

Johnson was taken to the ground and handcuffed, the affidavit states, and while being escorted to the vehicle he “began ranting about his personal relationship with Sarasota Sheriff (Tom) Knight and that officers would ‘pay.’"

Courtesy. The mugshot of Craig Johnson from May 8.

Officers say Johnson kept resisting, falling to the ground to avoid being placed in the police car, and then refusing to “lift his feet into the vehicle in an attempt to stop the door from being closed.”

“Johnson continued to rant,” the Sarasota Police affidavit states, “and stated to officers, ‘I’m going to knock you out and that officers ‘were responding like they were going to a black neighborhood."

Johnson was charged with two counts of battery on an officer; one count of resisting an officer: obstruction without violence; and one count of trespassing: failing to leave a property by owner. According to the Sarasota County Clerk’s office, Johnson posted $1,000 bond and was release May 8.   

In its statement, FCCI said the executive, "vehemently denies the allegations and expects to be fully vindicated from any wrongdoing. The board has spoken directly with Mr. Johnson and has accepted his denial. We anticipate that the factual underpinnings of the events will become more fully developed and established. We have no doubt in Mr. Johnson’s integrity and ability to lead the company."

Johnson, considered a rising star in commercial insurance and within FCCI, was named CEO in April 2011, when he replaced longtime leader G.W. Jacobs, who had retired.  The company’s revenue has grown at least 60% under Johnson, from $529 million in 2012 to nearly $850 million in 2018. The company has some 850 employees.

Johnson, in his nearly decade at the helm of FCCI, has also developed a reputation has being an approachable CEO, often holding coffee town halls and dressing up for Halloween skits. He recently held “corona with Craig” video meetings, updating the employees on the company’s pandemic response.

 

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