AUSA Bell asks For 18 Month Sentence for David L. Johnson


by Ken Davidson

The stage is set for the sentencing of David L. Johnson on February 6, 2014. Johnson, owner of Dave’s Tree Service in Munster pled guilty to one count of Bribery Involving Federal Programs in October, 2012. One count of bribery is to be dismissed pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement. After numerous continuances by both prosecution and defense, it appears now that Johnson will be sentenced on February 6, 2013. Assistant United States Attorney Gary Bell has filed a sentencing memorandum asking the Court to give Johnson a sentence of 18 months in prison.
In requesting the 18 month sentence, AUSA Bell states “a non-custodial sentence would hardly deter anyone from bribing public officials, or respecting the law, or providing just punishment for the offense conduct.” Bell argues that Johnson’s crimes were motivated by greed, evidenced by his personal wealth.

This Court has stated a number of times that public corruption offenses are very serious, in part, because of the breach of public trust. While the defendant is not the public official, without his actions, the offense would not have occurred. Likewise, the defendant made multiple payments and received a dozen separate contracts. Stated another way, this was not a one-time mistake. And he put more than $300,000 in his pockets. Undoubtedly, Hammond paid more to the
defendant had there been no bribe payments.

Johnson was previously implicated in the “Sidewalks for Votes” scandal in East Chicago. Johnson’s Company was sued by, and settled with, the Indiana Attorney General. Despite this prior suit, Dave’s Tree Service continued to receive contracts in the City of Hammond. Presumably, the Government has gone through each of those contracts searching for irregularities.

Co-defendant Alfonso Salinas, a former Hammond City Council member, received a sentence of 42 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of bribery and one count of failure to file income tax returns. AUSA Bell requested Salinas be sentenced to 46 months in prison. ┬áSalinas’ sentencing documents remain sealed.