Sen. Bert Johnson Stole Taxpayer Money to Repay Debt, Feds Charge
February 21st, 2018, 6:32 AM
State Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, was deep in debt in fall 2013 when he conspired to steal from taxpayers, federal prosecutors said Tuesday in a court document.
To remedy that, he hired a ghost employee for a no-show state job so he could repay loans, Robert Snell of The Detroit News reports, adding:
Johnson, 44, faced several pressing debts in fall 2013, including his son’s private-school tuition at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, his own tuition at the University of Detroit-Mercy and his own debt to a political consulting firm, prosecutors said.
He is accused of putting a ghost employee on his Senate payroll so he could repay loans. The ghost employee is Glynis Thornton, who was ensnared in an earlier corruption scandal involving the state-run Education Achievement Authority in Detroit.
“Johnson personally borrowed thousands of dollars from Thornton, and when unable to repay her, Johnson devised a plan to repay Thornton using State of Michigan dollars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Buckley wrote.
Johnson first asked Thornton for a $30,000 loan, which she refused to give, the court filing shows. She eventually agreed to lend $10,000, and he put her on the state payroll for a no-show job to repay her in October 2014.
While she was on the payroll, she lent him an additional $4,000 and later another $3,000. At one point, he repaid the $3,000, court documents allege.
In the end, Thornton received $23,204 of public money for the fake job, prosecutors say.