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Federal jury finds Red Lake woman guilty in child abuse case

In World
April 16, 2024

Apr. 15—MINNEAPOLIS — A federal jury has found a Red Lake woman guilty of child neglect and endangerment in the Red Lake Nation for incidents spanning between January 2021 and April 2022.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, following a five-day trial before Judge Katherine M. Menendez, 46-year-old Bobbi Jo Johnson, also known as Bobbi Jo Kingbird, was convicted last week on one count of child neglect/deprivation of food and health care, and one count of child endangerment.

She is one of five people indicted in the case and the only one whose case went to trial.

According to evidence presented at trial and court documents, between Jan. 1, 2021, and April 29, 2022, Bobbi Jo Johnson engaged in, aided and abetted the endangerment, neglect and abuse of a child who was in the foster care of her sister and co-defendant, Trina Mae Johnson.

The abuse included withholding food from the victim to the point of starvation, forcing the victim to stand in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time and assaulting the victim, resulting in the child suffering serious and substantial physical, mental and emotional harm.

According to the January 2023 indictment,

Johnson was also aided and abetted by Bertram Calvin Lussier Jr., and Johnson’s two other sisters, Ellie Mae Johnson and Patricia Ann Johnson, who all regularly assumed responsibility for the care and supervision of the child.

Trina pleaded guilty to one count of child torture, one count of child neglect/deprivation of food and health care, one count of child endangerment, and one count of assault on a minor with a dangerous weapon. Ellie, Patricia and Lussier each pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment.

All five defendants will be sentenced at a later date.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, with support from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Beltrami County Sherriff’s Office, the Bemidji Police Department and the Blackduck Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruth S. Shnider and Evan B. Gilead tried the case.

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