Cleveland City Councilman Convicted of Federal Program Theft, Tax Violations, Witness Tampering and Falsifying Records
Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that a federal jury found Cleveland City Councilman Kenneth Johnson, 75, guilty of all 15-counts charged in an indictment related to two federal program theft schemes Johnson organized and executed while serving as Ward 4 Councilman in the City of Cleveland. Garnell Jamison, 62, was also convicted of 11-counts for his role and participation in one of the schemes.
Following a seven-day trial, Johnson was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit federal program theft; six counts of federal program theft; five counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns; one count of tampering with a witness and one count of falsification of records in a federal investigation.
Jamison was convicted of 11-counts, including federal program theft, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, tampering with a witness and falsification of records in a federal investigation. Jamison worked for the City of Cleveland as Johnson’s Executive Assistant, a position he held for over 20 years.
Johnson and Jamison were indicted by a grand jury on February 18, 2021.
Evidence presented at trial established that from January of 2010 through October of 2018, Johnson and Jamison devised a scheme to induce the City of Cleveland to issue reimbursement checks to Johnson for Ward 4 services that were never actually performed. Court records established that during this time frame, the City issued $1,200 monthly expense reimbursement checks to Johnson totaling approximately $127,200. Each reimbursement check from the City was deposited into Johnson’s personal bank account.
Additionally, Johnson was convicted of personally benefiting from federal Community Development Funds distributed to the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation (BSSDC) from the City of Cleveland. From in or around December 2013 to in or around March 2018, prosecutors proved that the BSSDC issued approximately $50,000 in checks distributed to third-parties, which were later deposited or transferred the funds into bank accounts held or controlled by Johnson. Federal regulations prohibited Johnson, or his family members, from personally benefiting from these funds.
Furthermore, prosecutors proved that for calendar years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Johnson and Jamison submitted false and fraudulent Individual Income Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service. Court evidence and testimony proved that Johnson and Jamison knew that the returns were false and fraudulent in that each return understated Johnson’s total income by failing to report additional income and by inflating the value of Johnson’s itemized deductions.
Lastly, Johnson and Jamison were convicted of attempting to persuade and influence the testimony of a grand jury witness by providing that person with false and fraudulent information and records purporting to document charitable donations made by Johnson. In addition, Johnson and Jamison falsified a donation receipt with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence an investigation.
Johnson and Jamison will be sentenced on October 8, 2021.
This case was investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and IRS-Criminal Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Seabury Gould and Megan R. Miller.