1) I use the Ranco digital controllers and really like them. With your connection to Johnson though, I'm sure that would work well too.
2) I have the same fridge. I bent the freezer portion against the back wall. I believe this is the only cooling element, so you can't really remove it. Bending it does carry some risk of crimping the tube. Proceed with at your own risk.
This fridge, with the Ranco digital controller, works awesome. My beers have improved immensely since I started using it.