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Former Cleveland City Councilman sentenced to 6 years

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Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 5:11 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that former City of Cleveland Councilman Kenneth Johnson was sentenced today by Judge John R. Adams to 6 years in prison.

Johnson was found guilty by a jury on July 30, 2021, of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, federal program theft, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, tampering with a witness, and falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Garnell Jamison was also sentenced by Judge Adams to five years following his conviction on the same date of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, federal program theft, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, tampering with a witness, and falsification of records in a federal investigation, according to a press release.

Judge Adams ordered Johnson to pay total restitution in the amount of $746,839.38 to the IRS and HUD.

According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial, from January of 2010 through October of 2018, Johnson and Jamison devised a scheme to induce the city of Cleveland to issue reimbursement checks to Johnson for Ward 4 services that were never actually performed, according to the press release.

Court records established that during this time frame, the city issued $1,200 monthly expense reimbursement checks to Johnson totaling approximately $127,200.

Each reimbursement check from the City was deposited into Johnson’s personal bank account, according to the press release.

Johnson was also convicted of personally benefiting from federal Community Development Funds distributed to the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation (BSSDC) from the City of Cleveland.

From in or around Dec. 2013 to in or around March 2018, prosecutors proved that the BSSDC issued approximately $50,000 in checks distributed to third-parties, which were later deposited or transferred the funds into bank accounts held or controlled by Johnson, according to a press release.

Federal regulations prohibited Johnson, or his family members, from personally benefiting from these funds.

Furthermore, for the calendar years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Johnson and Jamison submitted false and fraudulent Individual Income Tax Returns to the IRS, according to a press release.

Evidence and testimony during the trial proved that Johnson and Jamison knew that the returns fraudulently understated Johnson’s total income by failing to report additional income and by inflating the value of Johnson’s itemized deductions.

Johnson and Jamison were also convicted of attempting to persuade and influence the testimony of a grand jury witness by providing that person with false and fraudulent information and records purporting to document charitable donations made by Johnson and falsifying a donation receipt with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence an investigation, according to the press release.

This case was investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Seabury Gould and Megan R. Miller.

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