David A. Paterson for much of his adult life. He began as a young, ambitious intern from Harlem when Mr. Paterson was a state legislator. He rose to be Mr. Paterson’s driver, serving as a kind of protector and scheduler.
In recent months, however, Mr. Johnson’s ascent has been striking: he is now one of the most senior people in the governor’s administration, paid $132,000. He is described as Mr. Paterson’s closest confidant, a man with a designated room for his overnight stays in the Executive Mansion, and a broadening role in areas like campaign strategy, government initiatives and the management of the governor’s staff.
A review of Mr. Johnson’s rise and his history, undertaken after he emerged as perhaps the man closest to the state’s chief executive, shows that he was twice arrested on felony drug charges as a teenager, including a charge of selling cocaine to an undercover officer in Harlem.
The examination of his background, based on interviews and records, shows he has at least one other arrest, for misdemeanor assault in the 1990s, although there is very little publicly available about that case.
In a statement, Mr. Paterson noted how long ago the drug arrests had happened. “David Johnson has demonstrated, over the course of his adult life, that people can change their personal circumstances and achieve success when given a second chance,” he said. “I will not turn my back on someone because of mistakes made as a teenager.”
Mr. Johnson, 37, has also on three occasions been involved in altercations with women, two of which led to calls to the police. As recently as October, the police responded to a complaint of harassment at a Bronx address of a woman involved with him. It is unclear if the altercation was verbal or physical or both, but the case is listed as closed.
In 2001, when Mr. Paterson was a state senator, Mr. Johnson, according to a person who was present, punched a girlfriend outside the senator’s Harlem office. No arrest resulted, and Mr. Johnson, through a spokesman for the governor, said that he never touched the woman, that she had come to the office inappropriately and that she had been asked to leave by others. He declined recent requests for interviews. (Continues here at NY Times)