AKRON, Ohio — A federal judge sentenced Kenneth Johnson, the disgraced former Cleveland councilman who was found guilty of stealing federal funds, to six years in prison. His assistant, Garnell Jamison, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Johnson and Jamison were ordered to pay more than $619,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and more than $127,000 to the IRS. Johnson was also ordered to pay a special assessment cost of $1,500.
A jury found Johnson guilty in July of conspiring with Jamison to steal federal funds and divert the money to bank accounts controlled by Johnson.
According to court records, Johnson and Jamison were found guilty of the following:
- Count 1: Johnson and Jamison — Conspiracy to commit federal program theft
- Count 2: Johnson — Conspiracy to commit federal program theft
- Counts 3-5: Johnson — Federal program theft
- Counts 6-8: Johnson and Jamison — Federal program theft
- Counts 9-13: Johnson and Jamison — Aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns
- Count 14: Johnson and Jamison — Tampering with witness
- Count 15: Johnson and Jamison — Falsification of records in federal investigations
Johnson was given 60 months in prison for counts 1 and 2, and 72 months in prison for counts 3-8 and 14, and given 36 months in prison for counts 9-13. However, the judge ordered the sentences to run concurrent, meaning he will spend the longest term in prison, which is six years.
Johnson served as a councilman in Cleveland since 1980 until he was found guilty and removed from his position in July 2021.
Prosecutors stated that between January 2010 and October 2018, Johnson submitted falsified paperwork to obtain a $1,200 reimbursement each month. Attorneys said that each councilperson is able to submit up to $1,200 each month for services performed that benefit their ward. In Johnson's case, no such services were ever done, they said.
Prosecutors for the case said Johnson abused a relationship he had with city recreation manager Robert Fitzpatrick in order to cheat the system out of more than one hundred $1,200 checks. Back in 2010, prosecutors said that Fitzpatrick performed around two months of work but was never paid for it. But Johnson's paperwork said Fitzpatrick continued to do work each month for years on end in order to get the $1,200 maximum allowed through city reimbursement.
Furthermore, prosecutors said Johnson conducted a scheme to steal federal grant money from the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation.
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