Johnny was a troubled man who had suffered extreme psychological abuse at the hands of his ruthless and mentally unstable father, mob boss Anthony Zacchara. During one of Anthony's infamous fits of rage, Anthony aimed a gun at his young son with the intention of murdering Johnny, but Johnny's mother jumped into the path of the bullet at the last moment. Johnny watched his mother die as Anthony blamed Johnny for Maria's death. Johnny's beloved older sister, Claudia, whisked Johnny away before Anthony could harm his young son. After Maria's death was covered up, Anthony punished Johnny for Maria's murder by sending Claudia to Italy to live with her uncle, Rudy. Johnny eventually became Anthony's new obsession, as Anthony's mind continued to unravel.
As Johnny grew older, he acted out by running away and getting into trouble. One night, he picked up a hitchhiker, who turned out to be Lulu Spencer. Lulu had just had her heart broken when she learned that her boyfriend had cheated on her. Feeling upset and angry, Lulu had begun walking and accepted a ride from a stranger. Johnny and Lulu ended up stranded and took shelter in a barn while people were frantically searching for Lulu. Concern for Lulu mounted as everyone realized whom she had ended up with.
Trevor continued to be frustrated with Johnny's lack of compliance when Johnny refused to follow Trevor's orders to work with Jerry Jacks. Both Trevor and Jerry wanted to put Johnny in his place, so Trevor had Jerry kidnap Lulu. Johnny worked with Jason to rescue Lulu, and then Johnny made a statement of his own when he blew up a Zacchara ship. Johnny was injured in the explosion, but he knew Trevor and Jerry would be after him. Johnny went into hiding at the Haunted Star. Lulu found him and helped him recover from his injuries. Lulu and Johnny slept together after he recovered, but Lulu remained determined not to enter into a relationship with Johnny because he was too reckless and dangerous.
Since Trevor was unable to control Johnny, he decided replace Johnny at the helm of the organization. Trevor arranged for Johnny's half-sister, Claudia, to move from Italy to Port Charles. Trevor believed she would be easy to control. Johnny was thrilled to have his older sister in town, and Johnny enjoyed watching his sister disagree with Trevor.
When Sonny's girlfriend, Kate Howard, was shot, Sonny believed Johnny was behind the shooting and held Johnny hostage at an asylum. When Johnny was released, he and Claudia vowed to kill Sonny. While they developed a plan to kill Sonny, Johnny invested in the Haunted Star as a silent partner as a means to get closer to Lulu.
Claudia informed Johnny she had made arrangements for Sonny to be killed. Johnny needed his whereabouts to be witnessed, and Lulu became his alibi. They were at the Haunted Star when the hit on Sonny was carried out. The bullet meant for Sonny ricocheted, and Sonny's son Michael was shot in the head. Lulu knew Sonny would accuse Johnny of shooting Michael, so she went to see Sonny to convince him of Johnny's innocence. When she arrived at Sonny's, she walked in on Johnny holding a gun on Sonny. Lulu was disturbed by what she saw and swore she was done with Johnny.
Ric Lansing secured Anthony's release from prison. Anthony was disappointed when Johnny wanted nothing to do with him. Anthony decided to use Lulu as leverage over Johnny, but Lulu wanted nothing to do with Johnny. Anthony threatened Lulu's family and coerced her into dating Johnny again. Johnny and Lulu entered into a pretend relationship until Lulu admitted she wanted to date Johnny. Despite her relationship with Johnny, Lulu's ex-boyfriend, Logan Hayes, continued to pursue her.
Johnny and Claudia tried to get away from Anthony, and they moved in together to an apartment across from the Metro Court Hotel. Anthony still arranged for Johnny's release after Johnny was arrested for assaulting Logan. Just after Johnny was released, Lulu was waiting for Johnny at his apartment, and she witnessed Logan attack Maxie at the Crimson office.
Logan saw Lulu watching him from Johnny's apartment, and Logan went after her. Lulu stabbed him to death. Johnny arrived after Lulu killed Logan, and Claudia arrived soon after. Johnny told Claudia he had killed Logan to protect Lulu. Claudia and Johnny dumped Logan's body and attempted to cover up the crime.
Lulu knew Johnny would be the main suspect in Logan's death, and she agreed to let Johnny cover for what she had done on one condition: Johnny needed to go on the run with her. Johnny was arrested for Logan's murder, and when Lulu went to visit him, she carried in a gun. Johnny used the gun to take Lulu hostage, and they escaped. Johnny took Lulu to his former piano teacher's apartment in New York. They went by the names Joe and Linda.
Johnny posed as a piano teacher and gave lessons to the landlord's daughter in exchange for rent. While Lulu and Johnny were in New York, Lulu's mental health began to decline. She had visions of Logan and was confused about what was real. Johnny took Lulu to Shadybrook for treatment, and he was arrested.
At Johnny's trial, Claudia testified that Johnny had killed Logan when Johnny walked in on Logan trying to rape her. Trevor paid off a juror to ensure Johnny was found not guilty. When Lulu was released from Shadybrook, Johnny and Lulu continued their relationship.
Johnny left the family business when Anthony made Sonny the head of the family. Anthony required Claudia and Sonny to marry to make the transition of power official. Johnny was disgusted his father would marry off Claudia, and he was disappointed in Claudia for going through with the wedding. Johnny struggled to find a job, and Anthony tried to force Johnny to depend on the family by setting him up for assault charges. Anthony's plan did not work. Instead, Lulu and her father intervened to get Johnny released.
Johnny felt he was not good enough for Lulu when he was not able to find a job. He lied to Lulu when he told her he had been hired as an orderly at the hospital. Johnny shared with Maxie that he did not believe he was good enough for Lulu. Maxie agreed that she felt the same way in her relationship with Spinelli, and then Maxie and Johnny kissed. They admitted they had a mutual attraction, but they each wanted to try to make their relationships work.
Johnny offered to drive Maxie home, and they found Robin's minivan on the side of the road during a winter storm. They found Robin and her daughter, Emma, in the snow and took them to Mercy Hospital. General Hospital was unsafe because a deadly biotoxin had been released. When Maxie learned Spinelli was inside General Hospital, she went in after him, but Johnny pulled her out. After the crisis, both Lulu and Spinelli questioned why Maxie and Johnny had been together, so Maxie and Johnny created a cover story.
When Johnny still could not find a job, he opened his own garage. He was upset when Lulu tried to drum up business for him. Johnny also took a job escorting Maxie to Crimson events. He continued to be drawn to Maxie, and he kissed her again. Johnny used Maxie to push Lulu away when the secret of Michael's shooting was close to being revealed. Johnny told Lulu he was interested in Maxie, and Lulu broke up with him.
While drinking at Jake's, Johnny met an attractive older woman named Olivia Falconeri. They slept together and planned for the encounter to be a one-time occurrence, but they enjoyed each other's company and continued sleeping together. Both Olivia and Johnny agreed they were only interested in a casual fling. When Claudia learned of their affair, she tried to pressure Olivia into staying away from Johnny, but Olivia refused. Sonny also advised Olivia against any involvement with Johnny, and Sonny made a play for Olivia. She rebuffed Sonny's advances and remained with Johnny.
Johnny kept his distance from Claudia during her marriage to Sonny. Johnny did not understand why Claudia wanted to remain married to Sonny with the knowledge that at any time Sonny could learn about her involvement in Michael's shooting and kill her. Johnny tried several times to convince Claudia to return to Europe, but she refused. Johnny did not support Claudia's scheme to become pregnant with Sonny's child, but Johnny was by Claudia's side when she lost her baby after she was involved in a car accident. Claudia believed Michael was responsible for the car accident that had caused her to lose her baby. Johnny disowned Claudia when he realized she had sent Jerry Jacks to kill Michael.
Anthony continued to plot against Sonny, and he was concerned that Johnny could get caught in the crossfire when he went after Sonny, so he arranged for Johnny to be kidnapped. Johnny escaped and learned Claudia was gone. Sonny had planned an elaborate birthday party for Claudia and then used the event to publicly humiliate her and expose what she had done. She had disappeared shortly after. Johnny wanted to know what had happened to Claudia, and he wanted Sonny to be punished for the pain he had caused Claudia while she was alive.
Johnny overheard a conversation between Dominic, a member of Sonny's organization, and Olivia. He learned Dominic was actually Dante, Olivia's son with Sonny. Dante was working undercover in Sonny's organization. Although Johnny was disappointed Olivia had not trusted him with the truth, he appreciated the irony of Sonny's own son working to take him down. Johnny worked with Dante to find out what had happened to Claudia, and he showed Dante the mysterious pictures that were being sent to him. The pictures were of Claudia's dead body.
The pictures of Claudia prompted Johnny to reclaim his role as the heir of the Zacchara organization, and he vowed to avenge her death. Johnny hired Ethan Lovett, and they broke the truce between the Corinthos and Zacchara families when they hijacked one of Sonny's shipments. Johnny tried to impress Olivia with his newfound wealth, but she refused to accept his gifts. He also purchased a penthouse and invited her to move in. Olivia refused because she did not want to ruin what they had.
Sonny was on trial for Claudia's murder, and when Johnny took the stand, he testified that Sonny had been abusive to Claudia. When Johnny learned Michael had killed Claudia, he still wanted revenge against Sonny because Sonny had pushed Claudia to become a desperate and broken woman.
After Johnny's testimony at Sonny's trial, his daughter Kristina wanted to know more about how Sonny had abused Claudia. When Kristina concocted a plan to pretend to date Johnny to upset her father, Johnny went along with it. Olivia was against Johnny using Kristina to hurt Sonny, so Olivia broke up with Johnny. He responded by telling Kristina it was time to end their ruse because they had achieved their goal of unnerving Sonny. He also admitted he loved Olivia.
Johnny planned to drive Kristina home when his car exploded. He was able to protect Kristina from the car bomb, and no one was hurt. Johnny guessed Sonny was behind the car bomb, but he was unable to prove it. The tensions between Sonny and Johnny escalated, and Michael tried to broker a peace deal between the two families. While Michael and Johnny spoke, a car opened fire on them, and Michael pushed Johnny out of the way.
Johnny believed once again that Sonny had tried to kill him. Johnny went after Sonny and pulled a gun on him. When Sonny saw the gun, he shot Johnny in the chest. Detective Ronnie Dimestico was the first to arrive on the scene, and he disposed of Johnny's gun. It appeared that Sonny had shot an unarmed man.
As Johnny recovered from the shooting, Jason brokered a truce between the two families, so that they could deal with a new threat. A European mobster named the Balkan had moved to Port Charles. However, Johnny continued to cause problems for Sonny and Jason when he unwittingly hired himself out to men whom he later discovered worked for the Balkan.
Johnny's life took an unexpected turn when Dr. Lisa Niles passed off a syringe that was filled with a deadly toxin, which she had tried to inject into Robin Scorpio's I.V. Johnny quickly hid the syringe before the doctors chasing Lisa caught up to her. Johnny decided to hang on to the syringe as leverage to force Lisa to be a mob physician. One day, Lisa was treating Johnny for a gunshot wound, which he had sustained when he had killed one of the Balkan's henchmen who had been about to talk to Jason, when Olivia walked in. Olivia figured out Johnny had been shot again. Olivia ended things with Johnny for good when she realized he was never going to change his dangerous way of life.
The relationship between Lisa and Johnny began over blackmail, but as Johnny spent time with Lisa, he saw many similarities between Lisa and Claudia. When Patrick and Robin tried to warn Johnny that Lisa was mentally unstable, Johnny defended Lisa. Johnny also denied Patrick's accusations that Lisa had passed the syringe to him and he had used it to blackmail Lisa for medical treatment. Johnny explained to Lisa it was too late to save his sister from her obsession with Sonny, but he could still save Lisa from her obsession with Patrick. Lisa and Johnny began sleeping together, and Johnny tried to convince Lisa she could have a better life without Patrick.
Johnny realized that Robin and Patrick knew that he had the syringe, so he set up a scavenger hunt with clues all over town for Robin and Lisa to find. Robin located the syringe, but she put it in her locker at work when Jake Webber arrived at the hospital in critical condition, following a hit-and-run accident. Lisa managed to steal the syringe out of the locker and then destroy it before Robin could turn it over to the authorities. Johnny hoped that Lisa would finally move forward, but Lisa's determination to destroy Robin only intensified. He washed his hands of Lisa when she tried to kill Robin and frame Patrick for the murder.
Shortly afterwards, Anthony was released from prison. Anthony moved in with Johnny and then quickly began causing problems for his son. Johnny reluctantly agreed to help Lisa one last time by arranging for her to leave the country after she managed to escape from custody. Meanwhile, Anthony had agreed to hide Lisa at a safe house so that she could make one last deadly stand by taking Robin, Patrick, and several others hostage at the hospital. The hostage crisis resulted in Spinelli getting shot and Lisa fighting for her life in a permanent coma after she injected herself with drain cleaner.
Johnny returned his focus to mob business. He offered Michael Corinthos a job with the Zacchara organization in the hopes that they would be able to prevent a mob war from breaking out. Michael decided to take a job with ELQ instead because Michael didn't trust Anthony. Johnny remained unaware that his father continued to plot Sonny's downfall behind Johnny's back. When Johnny realized that Anthony had plans to disrupt the truce between the Corinthos and Zacchara families, Johnny had him followed.
The informant Johnny placed on Anthony reported that Anthony was meeting with Skye Chandler Quartermaine but was not able to discern the nature of their shared business. Johnny confronted Skye in a room at the Metro Court and the two engaged in a flirtatious banter. Johnny however misread Skye's intentions and he did not learn anything about the meetings between Skye and Anthony. Instead, she left Johnny tied to the bed. Despite the way Skye had treated Johnny in the hotel, he continued to press her for details about her dealings with Anthony and informed her that he was the safer Zacchara to do business with. Skye continued to keep her secret.
Around the same time, Johnny learned that Kristina was hospitalized and required a risky surgery. He paid Kristina a visit at the hospital and was saddened to learn her condition might have been caused by the car bomb that had gone off months earlier during their dating ruse. Johnny apologized for ever involving her in his war against her father and promised he would be there for anything she needed. He was unaware that Sonny had overheard their conversation.
Sonny blamed Johnny for Kristina's condition, and he attacked Johnny at his penthouse. Sonny held Johnny over the balcony and threatened to kill him until Olivia walked in and fired a warning shot to get Sonny's attention. She managed to talk Sonny out of killing Johnny and asked Johnny not to provoke Sonny in case she was not around to save him again.
In the aftermath of Johnny's confrontation with Sonny, he decided to increase his power by taking over his father's business dealings. Johnny learned Anthony was landing drug shipments in the city, and he used the drugs in his war against Sonny. Johnny knew that Sonny and most of his organization would be preoccupied with Jason Morgan's wedding, and he used the opportunity to plant drugs inside Sonny's warehouse. He planned to call the police to report an anonymous tip about the drugs in the warehouse.
Before making the call, Johnny stopped by one last time to make sure the drugs were in place. Dante unexpectedly stopped by while Johnny was there and sensed someone was there. Johnny ran off and was able to escape when Dante was shot.
When Johnny returned home, Anthony gave Johnny pointers about how to improve his exit strategy in the future and admitted he had stepped in to save Johnny's life. Johnny was disturbed to learn that his father had shot Dante, but he refrained from turning Anthony in. Instead, Johnny went to the hospital to check on Dante. He claimed he was there to lend his support to Dante's mother Olivia, and he swore to Olivia that he had not shot her son.
While Johnny checked in on Dante's condition, Anthony checked on the condition of a mystery patient, Lisa Niles. Anthony arranged for Lisa to be given medication that removed her from her comatose state. Johnny was unaware that Lisa was awake when she surprised him at his penthouse. She flirted with Johnny, and he offered to help her exit town quietly.
Lisa insisted she did not want to be saved, and she injected Johnny with a paralytic drug. Before Johnny was overcome by the drug, he begged Lisa to leave Robin and Patrick alone. When Johnny regained control of his body, he found his father injured on the pier, and he took Anthony to his repair shop to recover. Johnny blackmailed Steve Webber into making a house call to care for his father.
The second anniversary of Claudia's death approached, and Johnny spent it at Jake's. He planned to drink alone until Carly started flirting with him. The pair got closer and kissed as Sonny walked into the bar. He ordered Johnny to stay away from Carly. She refused and left the bar with Johnny. Once they were alone, Johnny pressed Carly to see if she was truly interested in a fling or was only using him to make her bodyguard Shawn Butler jealous. The answer was clear when Carly pulled away and ran into Shawn's arms.
Johnny was unconcerned with Carly's lack of interest and instead started to flirt with a new member of the police department, Officer Delores Padilla. Johnny remained shirtless during a routine questioning Delores conducted in his home, regarding the attacks on the dancers at his club. She instructed Johnny to visit the police station, and Johnny responded by telling her that he looked forward to their date. The unnerved state that Johnny's flirtation placed Delores in fascinated him, and he decided to investigate her. He also offered to work with her off the record to find the person behind the attacks on the strippers. In addition to the amusement Johnny had pushing buttons with Delores, he also enjoyed watching Olivia's new boyfriend, Steve Webber, squirm. Johnny repeatedly hinted that he knew Steve and the newest doctor at the hospital, Maggie Wurth, shared a secret from their past in Memphis.
At the start of 2012, Michael approached Johnny and inquired about a position working in the Zacchara organization. Michael was grieving the death of his girlfriend, Abby, and although the person attacking the dancers had not killed her, he wanted to use the Zacchara resources to help her friends remain safe. Carly was horrified to learn that Michael had sought Johnny out regarding a job, and she offered to sleep with Johnny if he would refuse to hire Michael. After a few discussions filled with sexual tension, he and Carly worked out the details of their agreement, although he questioned Carly's intent when she continued to postpone their intimacy.
Johnny agreed not to hire Michael, and the time arrived for Carly to fulfill her end of the deal. He turned the tables on Carly by confessing he had never intended to hire Michael and would not require Carly to sleep with him. He explained he was only having fun finding out how far Carly would go to protect her son, and they each admitted that the chemistry between them was something neither had expected. Their night ended with a heated kiss, which was followed up by an unexpected visit from Sonny.
Someone had recently shot Sonny, and he believed Johnny was his shooter. Johnny denied the accusation and reminded Sonny that he would look him in the eyes when he pulled the trigger. Sonny responded by giving Johnny a document that proved his parents were not actually Anthony and Maria Zacchara, but actually Claudia and deceased mob rival, Gino Soleito. Johnny was disgusted to learn that his grandfather, Anthony, had known of Gino's penchant for young girls and had used Claudia to gain leverage over Gino, then had sent Claudia away and raised her child as his own son.
As Johnny dealt with the revelation of his true identity, Anthony showed up and announced that he had married Tracy Quartermaine. Johnny threw his grandfather out, cut off his access to the Zacchara funds, and vowed revenge against him for the secret he had kept and the way he had treated Johnny's mother, Claudia.
Johnny turned to alcohol to ease his pain, and Carly checked on him often, although he initially refused to share the pain he was trying to numb. He tried to push Carly away, yet she continued to care for him, and he talked to her about Claudia and his feelings toward Anthony. They also shared more heated kisses. Johnny continued to act out, and he showed up intoxicated to a benefit that Sonny had organized in Dante's name. Johnny interrupted Sonny's speech and offered to donate money to the cause, but Sonny turned down the money and made a public announcement in which he shared the truth about Johnny's parents.
After Sonny's announcement, Johnny took off, and he claimed he had been standing on the ledge of the Metro Court when Carly met up with him near his car. While she was there, Sonny showed up with a fresh gunshot wound and accused Johnny of trying to kill Dante, as they had been standing together when the shot was fired. Sonny held a gun on Johnny, but Carly interceded. Dante arrived shortly after and convinced Sonny to head to the hospital.
Before Sonny left, Johnny announced that he did not know who had shot at Sonny that night, but he suggested that they question Anthony, as he had made an attempt on Dante's life in the past. Carly encouraged Johnny to warn his grandfather that Sonny would be going after him, and she recognized the conflict he felt between the love and hate for Anthony. Johnny took her advice and gave Anthony notice that Sonny would be going after him. Then Johnny and Carly shared another passionate kiss.
Carly and Johnny gave in to their passion and became lovers. They both admitted that they were surprised by the connection they shared and decided to find out where it could lead. Johnny appreciated Carly's support as he continued to deal with his unresolved feelings toward Claudia and his grandfather. He was also impressed by the way she continually defended him to Sonny.
As Johnny's feelings toward Carly grew, he decided to soften his stance against his grandfather after Anthony was injured in a car accident. Someone had shot out the tires of Anthony's car when he tried to leave town after Sonny had threatened his life. Johnny felt responsible for Sonny's new vendetta against Anthony, and he allowed his grandfather to hide out at his penthouse. Anthony eavesdropped when Kate Howard's alternate personality, Connie Falconeri, paid Johnny a visit and offered a plan for revenge against Sonny. She suggested they sleep together and arrange for Sonny to walk in on them. Johnny dismissed the offer, but Anthony encouraged him to take advantage of what Connie offered.
Johnny decided to ignore Connie's offer and instead wait for the legal system to punish Sonny after he was charged with the deaths of two people as the result of the accident that had occurred after Anthony's tires were shot out. Johnny felt confident that Sonny was guilty and would pay. He monitored the legal proceedings closely, and he convinced Officer Delores Padilla to inform him of the evidence the police had against Sonny. In exchange, he agreed to investigate the death of her sister.
While the case against Sonny was built, Connie continued to make contact with Johnny with her plan for revenge. Sonny remained unaware of the existence of Kate's alternate personality. Johnny and Carly decided to make their relationship public, and he explained to Connie that he did not want to jeopardize what he and Carly had started. Kate, Carly, and Johnny all testified at Sonny's trial, and he felt confident that Sonny would be punished. He was angered when Sonny went free, and the two exchanged threats after the not guilty verdict.
Shortly after Sonny's acquittal, Connie showed up at Johnny's penthouse and propositioned him again. He turned her down, but she refused to leave. Instead, she called Sonny and said Johnny's name as if he was harming her. Connie then explained that Sonny could walk in and find one of two things. Either Sonny could discover them in bed together, or Connie would pretend that Johnny was threatening her. Johnny did not like either option but he chose to take Connie to bed.
When Sonny arrived, he assumed that Johnny had forced his girlfriend into bed until she admitted that she and Johnny had been seeing each other for quite some time. Carly arrived as Sonny left, and Johnny tried to explain that things were not as they appeared.
Carly ended her relationship with Johnny and walked out on him. After she left, Kate regained control and was horrified to learn that she had slept with Johnny. He admitted that he had known about Connie for some time, and Kate accused him of rape since she had not consented. Their conversation was cut short when Kate's psychiatrist, Dr. Keenan, arrived and escorted Kate out of Johnny's penthouse.
Johnny's troubles continued when the police paid him a visit. He assumed that they were there to arrest him for rape but instead informed him that his illegal organ operation had been shut down. Johnny retaliated and made arrangements for the Memphis police to learn Steve's secret about the patient he had killed. Then he went to Kate's office to see if she had decided to press charges against him. Instead he found Connie and Olivia there. Olivia accused Johnny of changing into someone that intentionally caused damage to the lives of others. After Olivia left, Johnny agreed with Olivia that he had changed and wished he could undo what he had done to Steve and to Kate.
When Johnny returned home, Starr Manning showed up. Johnny had bought out her record deal after Sonny was found not guilty for causing the accident that had killed her boyfriend and daughter. She questioned Johnny about how he was so convinced that Sonny had been behind the accident. While Johnny's back was turned, Starr disappeared with his gun. She used the gun to threaten Sonny's life but did not go through with killing him. When she returned the gun to Johnny, the police arrived and arrested her. Johnny tried to provide legal support for her, but her family had already stepped in.
Johnny turned his attention to making amends with Carly. He delivered her flowers and told her that he planned to win her back because he was in love with her. She rebuffed his advances and ordered him to stay away from her. He paid Carly a visit a few days later with a bracelet from her childhood that she had mentioned. Carly was impressed he had remembered the story she had shared but refused to forgive him for sleeping with Kate/Connie.
In the meantime, Anthony showed up at Johnny's penthouse and informed him that he would be moving in because Tracy was trying to kill him. Johnny refused to let him move back in, and Anthony pulled a gun on him. Johnny taunted Anthony and told him to pull the trigger so they would be even. Anthony did not understand what Johnny meant until he explained that he had shot out the tires on Anthony's car. Anthony was shocked by the confession but promised to keep Johnny's secret quiet. Johnny did not need Anthony's promise of silence because he shot and killed Anthony.
After Johnny killed Anthony, he planted his body in the Quartermaine boathouse and framed Tracy Quartermaine as the murderer. Luke Spencer and Tracy were arrested after they were caught trying to dispose of the murder weapon, but they were released after Anthony's body did not turn up. Johnny hinted that he believed that his grandfather was dead, and he encouraged the authorities to continue their investigation with a focus on Tracy.
Although no body was found, Johnny was plagued with guilt over Anthony's death and was haunted by visions of Anthony. Johnny tried to chase away the visions by focusing on repairing his relationship with Carly. She agreed to give him another chance, and he promised to be honest with her. He also purchased half of the Haunted Star casino and made plans to turn it into a nightclub with Lulu. Johnny hoped to showcase the vocal talents of Starr Manning at the nightclub and to record her album there.
Even though Johnny promised Carly that he would be honest with her in the future, he did not reveal that he was to blame for the death of Starr's family or that he had killed his grandfather. He worried that his secrets were about to come out after Starr's father Todd Manning bugged his office and overheard him confess to shooting out Anthony's tires. Todd confronted Johnny and threatened to make him pay for what he had done until Johnny turned the tables on him and announced that he knew that Todd had allowed Sam Morgan to grieve for a child that was not dead.
Todd was shocked to hear that Johnny's men had been following Heather Webber when she disposed of Anthony's body in the woods and had seen Todd and Heather switch Téa Delgado's deceased son with Sam's healthy child. Each man despised the other but they agreed to keep quiet about what the other had done. Despite the agreement they reached, Johnny did not appreciate Todd's friendship with Carly and he warned her that Todd did not want them together.
Carly and Johnny continued to grow closer and he pressed Carly to prove her commitment to him by officially divorcing Jax. Carly was unable to explain why she had not signed the divorce papers but she did end her marriage when Jax returned to town after their daughter Josslyn was hospitalized. After Josslyn was released, Jax's brother Jerry poisoned the town's water supply with a deadly toxin and he held the antidote ransom for millions of dollars. Several of the wealthiest residents of Port Charles, including Carly and Johnny, arranged for the funds to be given to Jerry.
Both Johnny and Carly were present at the marina where Jerry planned to exchange the counteragent for the money and they were each feverish from the toxin. Jax and Todd were also there and Jax overheard a conversation between Johnny and Todd in which Johnny admitted that he was keeping something from Carly. Jax warned Carly that Johnny was not being honest with her and she confronted Johnny. Their discussion was cut short by Jerry's arrival with his hostage, Alexis Davis.
Jerry refused to let go of Alexis so Jax went after Jerry even though he was holding a gun. During their struggle, a shot was fired and Johnny moved into a position to protect Carly. He took a bullet to the chest and Carly insisted that Todd help her transport Johnny to the hospital. Carly left Johnny in Todd's care while she went to get help. Todd used the situation to his advantage and tried to kill Johnny until Lulu arrived and intervened on Johnny's behalf. Johnny made it to the hospital and told Carly he had something to tell her but he was taken in to surgery before he could make his confession. He survived the surgery and learned that everyone would survive the toxin. Carly visited Johnny after his surgery and she questioned Johnny about his secret. He told her that he had raised the funds to purchase the counteragent by turning to his former mob associates. Carly appreciated his honesty and informed Johnny that she signed the papers to divorce Jax.
While Johnny recovered in the hospital Kate's alter Connie came to visit him. She wanted Johnny to help her stop Kate's wedding to Sonny and had a plan that required Johnny's participation. He initially refused until Connie reminded him that she had taken the blame for shooting out Anthony's tires but was willing to tell the police that he had actually caused the accident. Johnny begged Connie to leave him out of her plans but she refused. Connie briefly left Johnny alone but insisted that they would be in touch.
Johnny sensed that his relationship with Carly was doomed and he asked Carly to take her daughter and run away with him. Carly appreciated the romantic gesture but turned down the offer. Instead the next day they attended Kate's wedding to Sonny where Connie revealed that she could not marry Sonny because she was already married to Johnny. Carly assumed that Connie was delusional until Johnny confessed that he had married her. Connie announced that she and Johnny had been carrying on a secret affair for months and Johnny confirmed it. Sonny immediately threatened to have Connie committed for psychiatric care but Connie reminded him that only her husband had the authority to do so.
Carly refused to believe that Johnny would hurt her again and she guessed that Johnny had wanted to take her away instead of entering into a marriage with Connie. She offered Johnny one final chance to tell her the truth about why he had married Connie and he announced that although he tried to be the man that Carly deserved, he could not be and had fallen in love with Connie. Carly walked away from Johnny and he left the wedding with his bride. Connie was eager to consummate the marriage but Johnny refused.
While Johnny remained married to Connie she constantly threatened to reveal Johnny's involvement in the deaths of Starr Manning's family. As time passed, Johnny's feelings of guilt and remorse increased and his love for Carly stayed strong. He decided he would rather spend time in prison than endure his marriage to Connie and he confessed to his attorney Diane Miller. Johnny also made plans to tell Starr and Carly the truth about why he had been forced into marriage. Connie thwarted Johnny's plans by rendering him unconscious.
When Johnny awoke, he was tied to a chair in his office at the Haunted Star. He tried to call for help but Connie gagged him and explained that she needed to keep his guilty conscience away from the police. Despite the gag, he was able to make enough noise to garner Starr's attention from outside the door. Starr argued with Connie and demanded that she free Connie. The women argued and Connie pushed Starr into a desk and she was rendered unconscious. Johnny was concerned for Starr but Connie dragged him away and placed him in the trunk of her car.
Johnny remained trapped until Connie swerved off the road. When he was freed from the trunk, he realized that Connie was hanging off the edge of a cliff and Starr stood over her. As Connie begged for help, Starr insisted that it would be justice for her child and boyfriend if she allowed Connie to fall to her death. Johnny arrived and told Starr that Connie's death would not be justice for her family because he had caused the accident but allowed Connie to cover for him. Starr was furious and walked away while Johnny pulled Connie to safety.
When the police arrived at the accident scene, Johnny was taken into police custody. On the way to the police station, they stopped at the hospital and Johnny saw Carly and Todd. He confessed that he had caused the accident that killed Starr's family and Carly announced that she was disgusted that she had ever been involved with him and was grateful she had a man like Todd in her life. Johnny used the opportunity to tell Carly and the police that Todd had known about his involvement in the crash for months but had remained quiet because Johnny had proof that Todd had been involved in switching Sam Morgan's baby with Téa Delgado's deceased child. Both men were taken to the police station and placed in a cell together.
Johnny also confessed to the murder of his grandfather, Anthony. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Before he began his term, he turned over his half of the Haunted Star to Starr Manning. A few months into his prison sentence, Johnny made contact with Connie and informed her that Carly and Sonny's son Morgan was in danger. He explained that Morgan had fallen prey to an online gambling scheme and owed thousands of dollars. Connie thanked him for the warning and Olivia paid him a visit to ensure that Johnny was not luring Sonny into a trap. Johnny swore he cared about Carly too much to make a false claim about her children.
Several months later, Sonny was sentenced to Pentonville and Johnny relished his new position of power over his rival. He taunted Sonny and then ordered his associates to assault him. Johnny informed Sonny that he would be taking over the territory held by the Jerome organization and that Sonny would not stand in his way if he wanted his brother Ric to live.