CRESTVIEW — A Crestview nonprofit founder accused of dealing in stolen property anticipates more community outreach efforts now that the case against him is closed.

Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputies in January charged Brotherhood of Love founder Gary Johnson with signing a stolen vehicle's title and bill of sale as a witness.

The 61-year-old, who said he did not know the car was stolen when he witnessed the sale, added in a July 19 phone interview that "I didn't plead guilty and they didn't plead not guilty…”

When the case went to court, “They withheld adjudication for six months … and if I don't get into any trouble for six months, they will withhold adjudication saying I’m guilty."

The Okaloosa Circuit Court website lists the case as closed.

Johnson said Judge Michael Flowers "was very considerate to me because of the stuff I've been doing over the years in the community and working with kids, so he took all that into consideration."

Johnson on June 10 pled no contest to a lesser charge of larceny — theft of $300 or more, but less than $5,000 — according to Okaloosa County court records.

The Brotherhood of Love, a not-for-profit group, annually provides community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and a December toy giveaway.

Johnson's faith-based outreach flourished for years when he lived in the Miami and Thomasville, Ga., areas. He brought the organization here to Crestview in November 2014, when he and a number of volunteers prepared free Thanksgiving meals for needy residents.

The goal was to feed 250 people, but more than 400 people received meals after word about the benefit spread in the News Bulletin and the Northwest Florida Daily News.

The organization reported feeding more than 500 people during its 2015 Thanksgiving feast.

WHAT'S NEXT

No longer concerned with the court case, Johnson said he wants to help children.

"My focus from now on is strictly about kids, because we're losing too many of them in the streets,” he said.

Johnson plans to have one event per month in different Northwest Florida communities.

"Everybody needs to get involved with trying to make these kids feel loved and know that we appreciate them,” he said.

The first Kids Fun Day — noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 6 under the Old Spanish Trail pavilion at Stillwell Boulevard in Crestview — commemorates the 26 people killed in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Johnson and the Brotherhood of Love ask all businesses, churches, organizations, parents and schools to attend the fun day.

The nonprofit accepts monetary and other donations such as hot dogs and hamburgers; a grill and charcoal; water, juice and sodas; napkins and paper plates; and one or two bounce houses. A popcorn or snow-cone machine also is on the wish list.

Contact Johnson, 229-379-1741, or his wife and BOL cofounder, Doris, 398-0431, to help.

---

HOW TO HELP

Gary Johnson and the Brotherhood of Love ask all businesses, churches, organizations, parents and schools to attend the Kids Fun Day.

The event — noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 6 under the Old Spanish Trail pavilion at Stillwell Boulevard in Crestview — commemorates the 26 people killed in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The nonprofit accepts monetary and other donations such as hot dogs and hamburgers; a grill and charcoal; water, juice and sodas; napkins and paper plates; and one or two bounce houses. A popcorn or snow-cone machine also is on the wish list.

As part of the outreach, the group is hoping to collect 500 bookbags of school supplies to distribute Aug. 6.

Contact Johnson, 229-379-1741, or his wife and BOL cofounder, Doris, 398-0431, to help.