FORT LAUDERDALE — Prosecutors are set to file theft charges against the former treasurer of the Broward County Democratic Party’s Council of Club Presidents.
Percy Johnson, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, is facing arrest in a case involving alleged misuse of the organization’s funds by writing $2,195 worth of unauthorized checks to himself. He is also accused of writing checks to a relative.
Johnson was scheduled to surrender to authorities last week, according to his attorney Johnny L. McCray Jr., and several other sources, but that did not happen.
Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said no warrant had been issued for Johnson’s arrest and that the investigation was “ongoing.”
“There were no arrangements made with our office” (for Johnson’s surrender), Ishoy said.
Sources close to the investigation said the surrender has been put on hold while prosecutors determine if Johnson has any pending cases or prior arrests. If there are, they could make him ineligible for any pre-trial intervention programs.
The Council of Club Presidents is a political organization comprising more than 30 top officials of Democratic Party clubs and caucuses in Broward County.
Johnson, who served as treasurer for eight years, did not seek re-election in voting during April 2011. The newly elected officers requested the financial records and when Johnson was slow to turn them over, the group threatened legal action.
“When we first asked Percy for the books, we were told that we were not getting them,” Bernie Parness, former president of the Council of Club Presidents, said. “We sent certified letters and threatened to go to court to get them. That’s when Percy told me he took the money and that he was so ashamed of what he had done,” Parness said in an interview Tuesday morning.
The checks in question were written between 2008 and 2010, the largest one being for $220. Many do not indicate what they were used for, and two were issued to Johnson’s sister for $40 and $60 for “consultant work.”
The funds were repaid but some of the council’s board members wanted Johnson to resign other positions he held in both the Broward County Democratic Party and the Florida Democratic Party. Johnson refused, prompting Parness and other board members to file a criminal complaint with Fort Lauderdale police.
In a previous interview with South Florida Times, Johnson acknowledged writing checks to himself and making cash withdrawals. He said at the time that he believed the money was used for “official council business.”
The controversy surrounding Johnson has divided the organization and has impacted the local party to the point where Parness and the entire board of the Council did not seek reelection to their posts.
Parness said, “It became the main issue at every meeting. A crime may have been committed and we’re seeking justice, not vengeance.”
*Pictured above is Percy Johnson. Photo courtesy of TamaracTalk.com