Former Air Force Employee, Eddie Ray Johnson Pleads Guilty to Stealing More Than $1.1 Million in Government Funds
Coordinated Congressional Travel in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Legislative Liaison
Greenbelt, MD (STL.News) Eddie Ray Johnson, Jr., age 60, of Brandywine, Maryland, pleaded guilty on May 14, 2021, to the federal charge of theft of government property, in connection with a scheme to use his government-issued travel credit card to obtain more than $1.1 million in cash advances.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Brigadier General Terry Bullard of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“Eddie Johnson betrayed his position of trust for his personal gain,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “Corrupt public employees rip off the taxpayers and undermine everyone’s faith in the government.”
According to his plea agreement, from January 2003 to February 2018, Johnson was a civilian Air Force employee, most recently as a travel coordinator in the Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Legislative Liaison, where he planned congressional travel and reviewed and approved accounting packages submitted by trip escorts, among other duties. Johnson admitted that from March 2014 through September 2017, he used his government-issued travel credit card to obtain more than $1.1 million in cash advances, at least $774,000 of which he diverted to his own personal use.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Johnson frequently deposited the stolen funds into a non-interest bearing account opened in his name at a bank branch in the Pentagon. Employees in the Office of Legislative Liaison were instructed to open such accounts so that they could more easily deposit and withdraw government funds for official use without accruing interest. After depositing the stolen funds, Johnson wrote checks to himself, which he deposited into his personal bank accounts, and spent the money for his personal benefit, including on living expenses, a baby grand piano, loan payments for a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and family vacations. Johnson also admitted that he provided cash to his family members, including his spouse.
During execution of a search warrant at Johnson’s residence in Brandywine, Maryland on November 6, 2019, law enforcement recovered approximately $15,1740 in cash from Johnson’s residence. Johnson agrees that at least $4,000 of the funds seized were the proceeds of his offense.
In all, Johnson’s conduct caused a loss to the U.S. government of $1,157,540.69, which includes $26,506.02 in banking and service fees that the Air Force paid monthly in connection with the cash advances Johnson obtained. As part of his plea agreement, Johnson has agreed to the entry of a restitution order in the full amount of the victim’s losses.
Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm has scheduled sentencing for September 3, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the OSI, the DCIS, and the IRS-CI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dana J. Brusca and Elizabeth Wright, who are prosecuting the case.