Former Cleveland City Councilman sentenced to 6 years and ordered to pay $746k in restitution after conviction of federal program theft, tax violations, witness tampering and falsifying records

 

Date: October 8, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that former City of Cleveland Councilman Kenneth Johnson was sentenced today by Judge John R. Adams to six years imprisonment. Johnson was found guilty by a jury on July 30, 2021, of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, 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.

Garnell Jamison was also sentenced today by Judge Adams to five years imprisonment following his conviction on the same date of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, 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.

In addition, Judge Adams ordered Johnson and Jamison to pay total restitution in the amount of $746,839.38 to the IRS and HUD.

According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial, 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.

Johnson was also 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, for the calendar years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, Johnson and Jamison submitted false and fraudulent Individual Income Tax Returns to the Internal Revenue Service.

Evidence and testimony during the trial proved that Johnson and Jamison knew that the returns fraudulently understated Johnson's total income by failing to report additional income and by inflating the value of Johnson's itemized deductions.

Johnson and Jamison were also 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 and falsifying a donation receipt with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence an investigation.

This case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Cleveland Division of the FBI, and Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Seabury Gould and Megan R. Miller.