Former Assistant District Attorney J. Floyd Johnson was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty late last year to a single count of tax evasion.
Former Assistant District Attorney J. Floyd Johnson was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty late last year to a single count of tax evasion. The ex-prosecutor will also serve three years supervised probation upon release from prison and must pay the feds roughly $180,000 in restitution.
"I can truly say I came into this hearing not knowing what I was going to do," U.S. District Judge Richard Haik said before handing down the sentence, which falls on the low end of the recommended guidelines. While some might not see the wisdom in locking up someone with Johnson's education and background, Haik noted, "If you don't put him in jail for what he has done, it sends a terrible message." The judge said that during the hearing he toyed with sentencing Johnson above the recommended 18-24 month guidelines as the evidence of his scheme to hide assets was presented. In the end, however, the judge agreed with U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley, who said that Johnson's professional background and work as an ADA should not factor into the sentencing. She asked the judge to hand down a sentence that would be consistent with similar tax evasion cases.
Before announcing the sentence, Haik ran through a number of the means Johnson used to hide his assets and avoid tax obligations: he bought two pieces of property for $16,000 each at separate times in 1994 and 1995 and put them in his mother-in-law's name because he had a 1993 tax lien of $49,000 against him; he then had her donate the property to his brother in 1999 and later took out $500,000 in construction and long-term financing loans in his brother's name to build a home for his own family on the site. Floyd Johnson initially lied to investigators, saying his brother, Chris Johnson, owned the home and that he was only renting it. In most of the transactions to execute the scheme, it was Johnson himself who notarized documents and filed them in the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's office. "If there isn't a scheme here, there ain't no such thing as a scheme," Haik said.
Referencing the team of respected local attorneys led by Valerie Garrett and Rickey Miniex who are also Johnson's good friends, Haik noted that the former prosecutor had "such a bright future, so many people who liked him." Despite that he was only charged with one count of tax evasion, court records indicate that Johnson failed to file income tax returns from 2003 to 2008, and often was late or did not pay his tax obligations dating back to the early 1990s. "[Johnson] flaunted around for years without paying income tax," Haik continued. "It shows he had very little respect for this particular law.
"I mean, you had the money," Haik said to the defendant. Court testimony revealed that Johnson's annual income was often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, from the DA's office and settlements from a private practice. "I know you don't feel like you got a break, but you did," Haid told Johnson. Had it not been for the taxes that were automatically deducted from his AD salary, Johnson's pattern proves he would have tried to avoid paying any taxes at all for more than a decade. "It appears that he really just didn't care," Haik said.
"Clearly judge, there were things that were good in Mr. Johnson's life," defense attorney Garrett said in asking the court for leniency. Garrett, however, acknowledged that Johnson's "personal life was a mess" for years. "How he lived in that mess, I can't even imagine," she said.
As for Johnson himself, the disgraced former prosecutor had little to say in his own defense. "I feel badly about the way I did these things," he said, noting his refusal to file and pay taxes. "As an officer of the court, I was remiss and I apologize."
Johnson reports to prison July 7.
For more of the back story on Johnson, click here.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."
A state district judge said he will rule Friday on a preliminary injunction to keep some charter schools from receiving $60 million through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
Saints fans were to gather, make merry, eat/drink compliments of a new Downtown group and watch the Saints beat Carolina and claim 1st place in the NFC South. But...
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram doesn't see his dramatic spike in production as any sort of validation.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing off one last time with her two main Republican challengers before next week's election.
He’s pulling for Knezek and Hidalgo on his end of the parish but issued endorsements in three other districts as well.
Off a narrow gravel road running between a handful of mostly abandoned lots near a Mississippi River levee, down past sprawling oak trees and thick weeds, a lectern framed by banana trees has been set up in front of three short rows of folding chairs.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to New Orleans this weekend to stir up voter support for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Saints coach Sean Payton has spent much of his team's erratic season trying to build his players up.
The Daily Advertiser has weighed in on this year's LPSB elections with nine endorsements.