George Johnson Indicted in Federal Court

George Johnson Indicted in Federal Court

Grand jury charges were filed May 23, 2017 in US District Court, against Gary Pierce, Sherry Pierce, James Norton and George Johnson, owner of Johnson Utilities, LLC.

The indictment claims that George Johnson, in or about August 2011, knowingly and willfully conspired with Gary Pierce, who was an elected Commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) and the Chairman in 2011 and 2012, Jim Norton and Sherry Pierce, along with others, to commit the following offenses against the United States:

  • Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) (Federal Programs Bribery)
  • Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1346 (Honest Services Mail Fraud) and
  • Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 1346 (Honest Services Wire Fraud)

The object of the conspiracy was for George Johnson to unlawfully pay money and property to defendants Gary and Sherry Pierce, through Jim Norton, in exchange for Gary Pierce, to unlawfully execute official actions benefiting defendant George Johnson and Johnson Utilities, LLC with respect to matters pending before the ACC and thereby deprive the ACC, the customers of Johnson Utilities, LLC and the citizens of the State of Arizona of their right to the honest services of elected members of the ACC through bribery and concealment of material information.

In addition to other charges, the indictment claims Gary Pierce and Sherry Pierce fraudulently and unlawfully accepted more than $400,000 in cash and property from George Johnson, in exchange for Gary Pierce's favorable and unlawful official actions on matters before the ACC, including Decision Number 72759, in ACC, Docket Number WS-02987A-08-0180, which added back into a rate base a wastewater division plant of over $18 million, which was previously disallowed, and the docketing of a proposed policy change in ACC, Docket Number W-00000C-06-0149, which lead to the ACC permitting utilities organized as subchapter S corporations and limited liability companies, to charge their ratepayers for the utility owner's personal income taxes.

There are eight counts included in the indictment.

  • Count One - Conspiracy
  • Count Two - Federal Programs Bribery
  • Count Three - Honest Services Mail Fraud
  • Counts Four - Eight - Honest Services Wire Fraud

You can view the entire indictment here.

George Johnson is scheduled for an arraignment hearing at U.S. District Court at 10 a.m. on June 7 before Magistrate Judge John Boyle.