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Former New Orleans Councilman Joe Johnson going prison for FEMA fraud

Thursday afternoon, former Louisiana lawmaker and New Orleans councilman Jon Johnson was sentenced to six months in prison for redirecting federal funds for personal use.

Johnson pleaded guilty to using FEMA money post-Katrina for campaign expenses.  Johnson told the judge that his number one priority is his eight-year-old daughter.

“It’s all about Hannah, for me,” Johnson said outside of federal court after receiving his sentence.

Johnson hoped to stay out of jail.  At least one of his defense attorneys said while he respected the court’s sentence, he didn’t agree with it: “I’ve got a right to disagree, and I strongly disagree with him having to go to jail with all of the good that he did,” attorney Julian Murray said.

Johnson and his wife worked for years — even using their own money — to help programs in New Orleans East that provided everything from daycare to free meals.  His wife died in 2011, leaving Johnson to face the charges alone and to explain to his young daughter.

When WGNO’s Curt Sprang asked Johnson what he would tell his daughter about his prison sentence, Johnson replied, “I am going to tell my daughter what I’ve told her in the past: that her father loves her very, very dearly.”

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