Grand jury investigates if Sen. Bert Johnson is using 'ghost employees'
(WJBK) - Federal agents and Michigan State Troopers are digging in to state senator Bert Johnson.
Investigators searched not only his office in Lansing but also his Highland Park homes today. Johnson is notorious for failing to pay his bills; he has stiffed landlords and their lawyers, political consultants - even children.
But Johnson does pay some bills. And FOX 2 has learned its how he pays those bills that brought the FBI and Michigan State Police to Highland Park to search his home and Lansing to search his Senate office.
Johnson has been the subject of a grand jury investigation for months. One of the subjects the grand jury is investigating is whether Johnson has one or most "ghost" employees -- those are people who are on his state payroll receiving your tax dollars -- who may be kicking some or all of that money back to Johnson.
Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning says an FBI raid means the investigation is serious and reaching a critical point. Henning knows what he's talking about - he's a former federal prosecutor.
He says the FBI raids places because someone is no longer cooperating, or the feds are afraid evidence they are seeking get destroyed.
Johnson has not been charged with a crime. And if he is using ill-gotten gains to pay off some debts, he isn't paying all of them off, just ask Dave Seman, a political consultant in Chicago who sued Johnson a couple years ago.
FOX 2: "One thing we hear when we hear him talk about his financial dealings is that 'Bert Johnson pays his bills.'"
"Well he didn't pay mine," said Seman. "I've heard him say that as well and he didn't pay mine."
Seman is still owed more than $26,000. Johnson has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing but Henning said that the raid may not just be about digging up more evidence against Johnson, the feds may be sending him a message that he is in real trouble.