Attorney for Cleveland Councilman arrested on federal program theft charges maintains his client’s innocence

19 Investigates: Cleveland council member, 2 associates arrested for theft from federal programs

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An attorney for Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson said his client is innocent until proven guilty on charges related to federal program theft.

In a statement to 19 News, Myron P. Watson said Johnson declared his innocence in court Tuesday after he was arrested on charges that include conspiracy to commit federal program theft, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, and tampering with a witness.

Below is the full statement given to 19 News:

Kenneth Johnson has dedicated his life to the service of his community for more than forty years, having been first elected to Cleveland City Council in 1980. As a councilman, he has established a stellar record of public service to help the people he was elected to serve to the best of his ability, without tire. He has been instrumental in raising the quality of life of those who live in the City of Cleveland. [Tuesday], Kenneth Johnson stood in Court and declared his innocence in this case. Our justice system demands that every citizen is presumed innocent no matter how public and condemning the unproven accusations. We will continue to work with those who also believe in the importance of a fair and just judicial system, and, we trust that Kenneth Johnson, a stalwart for his community, will be treated fairly both in the Court of Law, and, in the Court of Public Opinion. Councilman Kenneth Johnson has strongly advocated for his community, at every step, instituting numerous programs that build community, assist those in need, and encourage residents to pursue their dreams. Kenneth Johnson has devoted his life to encouraging and helping others, showing by example and support, that no matter how difficult a situation may seem, there is light. In doing so, his actions to support his Ward, his community -- to empower others to believe in themselves -- may, perhaps, threaten those who prefer the status quo. Kenneth Johnson will remain steadfast in the support of those causes he passionately believes in and will continue to diligently serve his community, and anxiously awaits to have his day in Court.
Myron P. Watson, attorney for Councilman Kenneth Johnson

Johnson, 74, was elected to represent Ward 4 and the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood faces 15 charges related to federal program theft, including:

  • 2 counts of conspiracy to commit federal program theft
  • 6 counts of federal program theft
  • 5 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns
  • 1 count of tampering with a witness
  • 1 count of falsification of records in a federal investigation

Garnell Jamison, a 61-year-old Cleveland man, and 57-year-old John Hopkins, of Cleveland Heights, were also arrested in connection to the scheme.

A statement on behalf of the Cleveland City Council has not yet been released publicly.

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