published Friday, August 10th, 2012

Pikeville theft case grows: Greg Johnson accused of spending $73,000 more than stated earlier

Pikeville, Tenn., Mayor Greg Johnson talks about a new sidewalk project funded by TDOT enhancement grant money to build new sidewalks on Spring Street between Wheeler Avenue and Groves Street. Pikeville is one of three towns in Southeast Tennessee to get project funding.
Pikeville, Tenn., Mayor Greg Johnson talks about a new sidewalk project funded by TDOT enhancement grant money to build new sidewalks on Spring Street between Wheeler Avenue and Groves Street. Pikeville is one of three towns in Southeast Tennessee to get project funding.
Photo by Ben Benton.

Though Pikeville, Tenn., Mayor Greg Johnson is accused of spending about $73,000 more in city funds than stated in earlier reports, he will not face additional charges, officials said Thursday.

Johnson, who was arrested last month on four charges of official misconduct and one charge of theft over $60,000, may have spent more than $250,000 in city funds for his personal use, according to a final report released Thursday by the state comptroller's office. An earlier report listed the amount at about $177,000.

Johnson also serves on the Bledsoe County Commission.

Mike Taylor, district attorney for the 12th Judicial District that covers Bledsoe County, said the increased amount of money won't affect the charges against Johnson.

"It won't make any difference," Taylor said. "We presented what we thought was appropriate based off the working report. It's unlikely to change."

If convicted, Johnson could serve up to two years in jail for each count of misconduct and 12 years for the count of theft.

Craig Mercer, who serves on the County Commission with Johnson, said Thursday that he's not sure whether the three-term Pikeville mayor would step down from his public positions.

"I really don't know. I feel like if he's found guilty, there might be some pressure, but right now I don't know," Mercer said. "People are just wondering what's going on."

According to staff at Pikeville City Hall, Johnson still is keeping office hours. His attorney, Steve Greer, has said the mayor is under no requirement to step down.

The comptroller's report adds additional details into the charges against Johnson.

Johnson is accused of spending $15,900 in city funds to buy a 2008 Honda Element that never was titled to the town and instead was given to one of Johnson's family members for personal use, the report said.

He also is accused of purchasing 10 used vehicles that cost the town $109,900. At least four of the vehicles were damaged severely and did not appear to fulfill any purpose, the report said. Johnson admitted to using one of the vehicles to take a trip to Miami, the report said.

A third count states Johnson received more than $130,000 in reimbursement claims for health insurance premiums that he never paid. Johnson never bought insurance through the city's provider, either, the report said.

Johnson also had the city pay him a "vehicle allowance" of $37,000 that was not authorized by city officials, according to the report.

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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