Longtime Cleveland Council Member Convicted of Tax Fraud

tax fraud convictionKenneth Johnson, 75 years old, has represented the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood on the Cleveland City Council for decades. In July 2021, his career of service ended with his conviction of submitting fraudulent tax returns, among other tax violations.


In 2010, Mr. Johnson and an associate approached a former employee of the Cleveland Division of Recreation to perform city upkeep, including snow plowing and lawn maintenance. For almost two months, the employee performed the work, but was not paid. Thereafter, the employee routinely submitted timesheets that were approved by Mr. Johnson, although no further maintenance was performed. Mr. Johnson submitted the timesheets on the pretext that he was paying the employee. Instead, Mr. Johnson pocketed $127,000 between January 2010 and October 2018 for services that were not performed.


Mr. Johnson shared the largesse with the employee, and a long-time assistant of Mr. Johnson, 61-year-old Garnell Jamison. As part of the IRS criminal tax investigation into the matter, it was also found that $50,000 in funds from a federal Community Development Fund for his district made their way into bank accounts controlled by Mr. Johnson.


The employee pled guilty in February 2021, and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Garnell were found guilty after a jury trial in July 2021. Mr. Johnson was convicted on 15 tax crime charges, while Mr. Garnell was convicted on 11 counts.


When solid evidence exists to support allegations made by the IRS, such as a false tax return, one wonders how the matter went all the way through a federal jury trial. In this matter, the employee who submitted fake timesheets pled guilty early and is understood to have provided enlightening background information on which the Councilman and his Assistant were charged several weeks later.


Our tax attorneys regularly represent business owners and taxpayers facing criminal tax charges. When dealing with tax litigation of this nature, early involvement of an experienced tax lawyer helps defendants make decisions in the best interest of mitigating the impact of a strong factual allegation. The decision to take a criminal tax matter before a jury is weighty indeed.


Both men will be sentenced in October 2021, their careers, reputation, and legacy in shambles. If you become aware the IRS takes an interest, speak with reputable tax counsel sooner than later.


Speak with an experienced tax attorney if involved in a criminal tax investigation or IRS audit

The tax group at Robert J. Fedor, Esq. LLC offers strategic representation to clients throughout the country and abroad from offices located in Cleveland and Chicago. From payroll tax issues to a charge of criminal tax fraud, we can help. Schedule a free consultation by calling 800-579-0997 or contact us today.


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