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State Sen. Bert Johnson pleads not guilty for having ghost employee

Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 17:27:42-04

A Michigan lawmaker has appeared in federal court for the first time since being charged with putting a phony employee on his public payroll.

A not-guilty plea was entered Tuesday for Sen. Bert Johnson, a Democrat from Highland Park. He's accused of borrowing $14,000 from a woman and repaying her by putting her on his payroll as a community liaison.

The government says Glynis Thornton was paid $23,000 but did no work in 2014. She's been cooperating with investigators since getting caught in a separate corruption case involving bribes for a Detroit school principal.

Johnson declined to comment outside court. But his lawyer, Cyril Hall, says the senator can prove that Thornton performed work for his office.