Cleveland, OH

Cleveland City Councilman convicted of federal program theft and other charges

Paul Krasinic

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CLEVELAND, OH — Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson, 75, was found guilty by Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan. Johnson was guilty of 15 counts related to two program theft schemes in an indictment. Johnson organized and conducted the theft schemes while serving as Ward 4 Councilman in the City of Cleveland. For participating in one of Johnson’s schemes, Garnell Jamison, 62, was also convicted of 11 counts.

On February 18, 2021, a grand jury indicted both Johnson and Jamison. The evidence presented at trial showed that Johnson and Jamison executed a scheme from January 2010 up until October 2018 to induce the City of Cleveland to issue reimbursement checks to Johnson for services that he never actually performed.

During the 8-year time frame, $1,200 monthly expense reimbursement checks were issued by the City to Johnson. The total count of checks is approximately $127,200, with each of the reimbursement checks deposited directly into Johnson’s personal bank account.

In addition, Johnson was also convicted of taking personal benefit from federal Community Development Funds that the City of Cleveland distributed to the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation (BSSDC). Prosecutors proved that from around December 2013 to March 2018, BSSDC issued roughly $50,000 in checks later deposited into bank accounts controlled or held by Johnson. Johnson or his family members are prohibited by federal regulations to personally benefit from these funds.

Further, Johnson and Jamison were proven to have submitted false and fraudulent Individual Income Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service from 2014 until 2018. Court testimony and evidence show proof that both Johnson and Jamison were aware that the returns were false and fraudulent, with each return understating Johnson’s total income and excluding additional income.

Finally, both Johnson and Jamison were convicted of attempting to persuade the testimony of a grand jury witness by giving the person false information and record of charitable donation. On top of that, Johnson and Jamison made a false donation receipt in an attempt to obstruct an investigation.

Johnson and Jamison are scheduled to be sentenced on October 8, 2021.

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