End of Ala. Corruption Scandal? Former Chancellor Sentenced

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced former two-year college system Chancellor Roy Johnson on Thursday to six-and-a-half years in prison for his corrupt activities that ensnared others in the schools and the Legislature.

After imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre ordered Johnson to pay $18.2 million, forfeit his home in Opelika and report to prison Dec. 28.

During the sentencing, Johnson apologized for his crimes and said he is prepared to pay for them.

U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said Johnson used his position as the highest-ranking official in Alabama’s two-year colleges to steer state contracts to people who would pay him bribes.

“He scoffed at the public’s trust and engaged in criminal conduct that involved elected state officials, college presidents, lobbyists, public employees and numerous contractors,” she said.

Johnson, 64, was chancellor from 2002 till 2006, when he was fired as the massive corruption scandal was exposed.

Johnson had pleaded guilty to 15 counts and cooperated with investigators. Prosecutors said his degree of cooperation, involving a dozen cases, is unprecedented in Alabama’s northern district.

Prosecutors in a filing this week said Johnson provided “extraordinarily significant” assistance in the probe.

“Indeed, Johnson’s significance as a cooperation in the area of corruption prosecutions is unprecedented” for the northern district court, the filing by Vance said.

Johnson testified against five defendants, including state Sen. E.B. McClain, state Rep. Sue Schmitz and former State Fire College executive director William Langston, who were convicted. Prosecutors said he also provided cooperation that led to several guilty pleas.

Johnson, a once-powerful lawmaker, was an educator in Tuscaloosa County and served as president of Southern Union Community College. He became chancellor in 2002. He was fired by the state school board in 2006 as the far-flung corruption scandal was exposed.

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