ATLANTA — A corrections officer at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta pled guilty to stealing money from an inmate and applying for a COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loan for a business that did not exist, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Justice officials said Andy Steven Johnson was a member of the Special Investigative Services team at the U.S. Penitentiary.
He pled guilty to stealing money from an inmate’s CashApp account, as well as using a fake business to fraudulently apply for a PPP loan.
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According to USDOJ, Johnson exploited his role at the prison to victimize inmates and steal from them.
“Johnson committed brazen acts of theft and fraud. Rather than conducting himself with integrity, he sought to personally gain, stealing from an inmate and attempting to fraudulently obtain pandemic relief funds meant to help those with legitimate hardships. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General will aggressively pursue justice for victims of these kinds of shameless acts,” Sandra D. Barnes, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for the Investigations Division at the DOJ OIG, said.
Officials described Johnson’s actions as starting in 2021, when he “seized a contraband mobile phone from an inmate.” Instead of processing the phone, he opened CashApp on the device and transferred $300 to his own account, according to USDOJ.
The funds were later transferred from CashApp to Johnson’s personal bank account.
Separately, Johnson also defrauded the PPP, according to prosecutors.
The Justice Department said Johnson filed an application for a PPP loan on March 4, 2021. The application claimed that Johnson had been running a business called Performance Customs since the beginning of 2020, earning $76,000 per year and paying about $6,300 every month for payroll.
Johnson applied for a forgivable loan from the COVID relief program and received almost $16,000.
“In reality, Performance Customs did not exist and Johnson had completely fabricated the information on the application,” USDOJ said.
Johnson pled guilty to theft by an employee of the United States and wire fraud. He is expected back in court for sentencing at a later date.
According to a copy of Johnson’s plea agreement, he will resign from his position rather than face termination from the Federal Bureau of Prisoners, and will not seek employment with the BOP, or any part of the U.S. Department of Justice, going forward.
Additionally, Johnson will not be able to seek employment from private prisons, detention centers, or community corrections centers and halfway houses, which provide residence to those in custody of the U.S. Attorney General.
Johnson also agreed to relinquish his Peace Officer’s Standards and Training certifications, and to not seek or accept future employment as a law enforcement or corrections offer in the United States, locally, for a state, or in federal jurisdictions.
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