Lawmaker pleads guilty in ghost employee scheme


DETROIT — A Michigan lawmaker charged with putting a no-show employee on the public payroll has pleaded guilty and faces up to a year in prison.

Sen. Bert Johnson, a Democrat from Highland Park, must repay $23,000 to the State of Michigan. It's not clear if he will leave office before he's sentenced on Aug. 7.

Johnson pleaded guilty this month to conspiring to steal money.

He was accused of putting Glynis Thornton on his payroll in order to repay $14,000 in loans from her. Federal investigators said Thornton did no work but collected $23,000.

Thornton cooperated with investigators after getting caught in a separate corruption case involving bribes for a Detroit school principal.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said public officials "cannot treat the people's money as their own."

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