Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jon Johnson to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud U.S. gov't

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 10:13 AM

District E City Councilman Jon Johnson is in federal court this morning and will plead guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government in connection with his nonprofit the Ninth Ward Housing Development Corporation.

The bill of information says from 2006 to 2008, Johnson misused federal FEMA dollars earmarked for the nonprofit to fund his 2007 state senate campaign.

Find a copy of the bill of information with Johnson's charges here. We'll have more later this morning.

UPDATE: Johnson's statement, in which he admits guilt, under the jump. He will be sentenced Oct. 25. STATEMENT FROM NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCILMAN JON JOHNSON: "Today July 18, 2012, I will enter a plea to a one count bill of information, charging me with conspiracy to convert federal funds and to file a false statement with a government agency. For some time now, I have been aware that there was an investigation being conducted by the federal government regarding two non-profit organizations -- 9th Ward Housing Development Corporations and the New Orleans Health Corporation, which I have been assisting as an unpaid manager following hurricane Katrina. My attorney, Julian Murray, was advised by the assistant US attorney that the government would be seeking charges against me relative to my activities in working with these two corporations which received federal funds as a result of the storm damage. Believing I had done nothing wrong and to the contrary having large sums of my personal money and having devoted thousands of volunteer hours to these two charitable organizations, I requested a meeting with US Attorney Jim Letten. While they acknowledged the positive contributions I have made, they were able to show me documentation where on two occasions I converted federal FEMA funds totaling $13,000 to use in my 2007 senate campaign, and where I filed a false statement in connection with an SBA loan which I was seeking. I acknowledge that I was, in fact, guilty of those offenses and accordingly agreed to enter a plea and to resign my position as a city councilman. I am hopeful that when all the facts are known, it will be found that my positive efforts to help these two charitable organizations, my many civic activities and my years of honest service to my city and state outweigh my transgressions. The actions in question took place during the years I was a private citizen and not serving in any public office or as an elected official."

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