Former state senator Bertram C. Johnson, 44, of Highland Park, was sentenced today to 90 days in prison, followed by two years of supervised release with 90 days of home confinement and 480 hours of community service, and over $23,000 in restitution, after having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
Joining Schneider in the announcement were Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI and Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
Johnson had previously pled guilty in March 2018 before United States District Judge Matthew F. Leitman. During his guilty plea, Johnson admitted that from March 2014 through January 2, 2015, he employed an unnamed co-conspirator as a community liaison, certifying her bi-weekly timesheets thereby causing the State of Michigan to pay the individual for work she did not actually complete. The indictment alleges that Johnson borrowed thousands of dollars in cash from the unnamed co-conspirator, and placed this “ghost employee” on the public payroll solely to pay off Johnson’s personal loan debt, and that the ghost employee was paid over $23,000 in taxpayer money.
“Public officials, especially those elected by the people, cannot treat the people’s money as their own,” stated United States Attorney Schneider. “The defendant in this case treated taxpayer money as his own, to repay his personal debt. Such an egregious abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
“The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue public officials who engage in criminal conduct at taxpayer expense,” stated Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “As demonstrated by the criminal actions in this case, the defendant put his own selfish interests above those he served. We ask that anyone with information regarding similar actions by any public official contact the FBI or FBI Detroit.”
“Senator Johnson made a conscious decision to violate the trust and confidence of the constituents that he was elected to represent,” stated Special Agent in Charge Manny J. Muriel, IRS Criminal Investigation. “As today’s sentencing shows, IRS-CI, along with our law enforcement partners will continue to hold those who use fraud and deceit to line their pockets by stealing from our nation’s taxpayers accountable.”
This case was investigated by agents of the FBI and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys J. Michael Buckley and Frances Lee Carlson.