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Friday, October 8, 2021

Former Cleveland Councilman Ken Johnson Sentenced to Six Years, Must Pay $619,000 in Restitution

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 3:09 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Cleveland City Council
  • Ken Johnson

Former Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson was sentenced to six years in prison Friday afternoon at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Akron. Johnson, 75, who was convicted in July on 15 corruption-related charges, must also pay $619,000 in restitution.

Johnson served on City Council in Cleveland's Ward 4, which spans much of Buckeye-Shaker and covers portions of both the Woodland Hills and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods.

Johnson's theft in office was exposed in detail by former reporter Mark Naymik, who is now with 3News. Naymik first reported on the financial distress of the Buckeye Shaker Square Development Corporation, from which Johnson stole federal block grant dollars, in 2018. Through the summer and fall, Naymik churned out a steady stream of stories documenting Johnson's malfeasance.

For example, Johnson was filing monthly expense reports that turned out to be falsified. He and his council assistant, Garnell Jamison, collected the maximum $1,200 every month over eight years for ward services that were never performed.

Despite Naymik's reporting, Johnson's council colleagues and council president Kevin Kelley did nothing to punish or even reprimand him. Johnson was permitted to continue serving on council until his actual arrest by the FBI in February of this year, after which he was suspended from the seat by a panel of retired Ohio judges. Ward 4 has been represented in an interim capacity by Marion Anita Gardner since June.

On Nov. 2, voters in Ward 4 will select a Johnson replacement — either Deborah Gray or Erick Walker — for the first time since 1980. 

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