FORMER NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCILMAN, JON JOHNSON, SENTENCED
JON JOHNSON, age 63, a former New Orleans City Councilman and Louisiana State Senator, was sentenced today by Judge Lance M. Africk to six (6) months incarceration, six (6) months house arrest, and three (3) years of supervised release, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten. JOHNSON previously pled guilty in July to a single count of Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Government Funds and to Submit False Documents to a Federal Agency. Judge Africk also ordered JOHNSON to pay $79,691 in restitution to FEMA and that he pay a fine of $5,000.
According to court documents, JOHNSON controlled the operations and the finances of Ninth Ward Housing Development Corporation (“Ninth Ward”), a non-profit organization in New Orleans. Ninth Ward owned a building located at 1008 Jourdan Avenue, which was commonly referred to and known as “The Semmes Building.”
The Semmes Building, formerly a school, was flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. After the storm, JOHNSON caused Ninth Ward to apply for FEMA grant funds, which FEMA had made available to certain qualifying individual property owners, civic municipalities, and businesses whose properties and possessions had been damaged and destroyed during and because of Hurricane Katrina. Ninth Ward received these funds, known as Public Assistance Grants.
JON JOHNSON, who was a candidate for Louisiana State Senate in District 2 for the election that took place on October 20, 2007, admitted in July that he personally and exclusively directed the use and misuse of the federal funds received by Ninth Ward. Further, he admitted that portions of the federal funds received from FEMA were used to make contributions to and pay expenses for his campaign for the Louisiana State Senate in the summer and fall of 2007 and for other expenditures unrelated to Ninth Ward.
Additionally, JON JOHNSON had previously admitted that he arranged for $16,640 to be transferred from Ninth Ward to the New Orleans Health Clinic (“NOHC”). NOHC was another non-profit with which JON JOHNSON was affiliated and over which he exerted executive control and influence. Once this Ninth Ward money was in the NOHC account, the NOHC funds received from Ninth Ward were used to make contributions to and pay expenses for his campaign for the Louisiana State Senate in the summer and fall of 2007 and for other expenditures unrelated to NOHC.
Finally, JOHNSON had also admitted that in applying for a disaster assistance loan from the SBA to help pay for expenses associated with repairing the damage his personal residence had sustained during and as a result of Hurricane Katrina, he conspired to submit false documents to that federal agency.
Specifically, JON JOHNSON, admitted that he conspired to submit to representatives of the SBA three (3) false and fabricated contracts that he claimed to have entered into for repairs made to the defendant’s personal residence. JOHNSON admitted that he submitted these false and fabricated contracts to the SBA in an effort to document the manner in which he had spent a low-interest loan the SBA had provided to him. The contracts were created solely for submission to the SBA and did not represent or reflect the amounts he paid to the contractor for the work performed.
The cases were investigated by the Office of Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Friel.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org