Cleveland council member accused of stealing $127K from city


CLEVELAND (AP) — A longtime Cleveland City Council member was arrested Wednesday in connection with a criminal indictment accusing him of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the city and a federal program.

Kenneth Johnson, 74, was first elected to the council in 1980. He faces 15 counts including conspiracy to commit federal program theft, tampering with a witness, falsification of records, federal program theft and aiding in the preparation of false tax returns.

Johnson, a Democrat, is accused of submitting false invoices to Cleveland for reimbursement of monthly expenses from January 2010 through October 2018 totaling $127,000.

The indictment says Johnson, his council aide and the director of a community development agency in Johnson’s ward also conspired to steal $50,000 in federal money through payments made to Johnson’s son and two people for whom Johnson served as court-appointed guardian. The aide and agency director also were indicted.

A telephone message seeking comment was left with Johnson’s attorney on Wednesday.

Johnson and the aide are accused of having a Cleveland recreation employee falsely sign timesheets that led to Johnson being reimbursed $1,200 a month in expenses for nearly nine years. The employee pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to commit theft.

The payments made to Johnson’s son and wards came from federal money allocated to the community service agency Johnson ostensibly controlled. The payments were ultimately deposited into Johnson’s bank account, the indictment said.

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