CLEVELAND, Ohio — A longtime Cleveland City Council member was arrested last month 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 according to the Times Union.
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.
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 issue surfaced in 2018 when Cleveland.com‘s Mark Naymik began reporting about Johnson’s reimbursement issues. The reports said Johnson submitted monthly forms to Council’s office for several years and sought the maximum amount every time.