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State senator charged with conspiracy, theft

Former Detroit State Senator Bert Johnson.
Bert Johnson
Democratic Senator Bert Johnson represents Michigan’s 2nd District.";

A raid on State Senator Bert Johnson’s home and Lansing office has culminated in a federal indictment.

A grand jury returned charges of theft and conspiracy against the Detroit-area senator.

Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a press release, “Theft of taxpayer’s money by elected public officials, as these charges allege, is disheartening and will not be tolerated.”

Johnson allegedly hired a so-called “ghost employee” to pay off several loans. The complaint says the State of Michigan unknowingly paid over $23,000 to an employee who never did any work for Johnson. The name of Johnson’s co-conspirator was not revealed, but the co-conspirator was hired in March of 2014 and worked through January of 2015.

Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Manny Muriel, said cases like this undermine the public’s trust in the government.

“This case in particular exemplifies the interagency collaboration between the FBI and the IRS,” he said. “And the United States commitment to combat the abuse of power, to elevate transparency and accountability of all public officials.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said in a press release, “These are serious charges announced today by the U.S. attorney, but Senator Johnson is presumed innocent and we are informed that he has retained an attorney to represent him in this matter.”

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