Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to FBI
Reno, Nev. – A disbarred Las Vegas lawyer pleaded guilty today to making false statements to FBI agents who were conducting an investigation into his attempts to bribe an individual he believed was a bank employee, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Valner L. Johnson, 53, pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro to making a false statement to federal agents, a felony offense. Johnson was indicted in November 2010, and pleaded guilty as originally charged.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 22, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. Johnson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In April 2010, one of Johnson's legal clients reported to the FBI that Johnson had solicited the client to locate a bank employee who could assist Johnson in carrying out a scheme to misrepresent his bank balance to third parties in order for Johnson to earn large profits. The FBI initiated an investigation utilizing an undercover agent to pose as a bank employee. Over the next several months, the FBI collected information of Johnson's intent to bribe the bank employee, and consequently, on July 28, 2010, FBI Agents executed search warrants at Johnson's residence and law office. Johnson was interviewed by agents and denied that he had asked the bank employee to falsely verify to third parties that he had over $500 million dollars on deposit in his Bank of America bank account and that he had asked the bank employee to provide him protected internal banking codes. At the time Johnson made the denials, he knew that they were false and material to the federal investigation. After agents terminated their interview with Johnson, he later that evening admitted to a third party that in an effort to conceal his criminal conduct, he had lied to the federal agents when he had spoken to them during the interview.
The Nevada State Bar website states that Johnson has been disbarred from the practice of law.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina M. Brown.