A former Air Force employee accused of stealing more than $ 1.1 million in government funds set aside for congressional travel has been sentenced to jail time in Maryland.

A former US Air Force travel coordinator accused of embezzling more than $ 1 million in cash advances with a government-issued credit card has been sentenced to jail.

Eddie Ray Johnson Jr., of Brandywine, Md., Has been sentenced to one year and four months, of which he will spend the first 12 months in house arrest, the U.S. prosecutor’s office said in a press release on Monday, November 29. Johnson was also ordered to pay $ 1.15 million in restitution and to perform 500 hours of community service.

A public defender representing Johnson did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Tuesday, November 30.

Johnson was a civilian member of the Air Force from 2003 until his resignation in February 2018, prosecutors said.

He worked from 2014 until his resignation as travel coordinator for the Secretary of the Air Force in the Legislative Liaison Office, which prosecutors say is housed at the Pentagon and responsible for organizing the visit. members of Congress and their personnel from United States Air Force assets or facilities.

These trips are funded by Congressional dollars allocated to the Air Force, the government said.

An escort was often assigned to accompany members of Congress on their trips to pay official expenses using a government-issued Citibank credit card. These Air Force employees were sometimes allowed to make cash advances, for example when going to a location where most transactions were done in cash or to reimburse travelers for government expenses if they were not. not accompanied by an escort.

Johnson’s role was largely managerial, the government said, and rarely involved him traveling with a congressional delegation.

According to his plea deal, Johnson planned trips, reviewed and approved accounting packages requested by an escort, trained travel escorts, and served as a bridge between the Legislative Liaison Office and the Secretary of the Air Force. .

Johnson was given a government-issued credit card due to his travel coordination responsibilities, prosecutors said.

Between March 2014 and September 2017, Johnson was accused of using this card to obtain $ 1.1 million in cash advances, which he often deposited into his personal bank account.

Prosecutors said he spent $ 774,000 on a multitude of personal expenses – from credit card bills and family vacations to loan payments on his Harley Davidson and a grand piano. A portion of the funds also went to his wife to help cover the cost of furniture and household bills.

Johnson was charged with criminal information in June 2020 and pleaded guilty in May to one count of theft of government property.

As part of his plea agreement and in addition to restitution, he will have to pay a fine of $ 15,000 and waive $ 4,000 to federal agents seized from his home during a search in November 2019.

Hayley Fowler is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and covers the latest real-time news in North and South Carolina. She graduated in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining The Observer in 2019.

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