percy-johnson-w2.jpgBy ELGIN JONES

FORT LAUDERDALE — An official with the Broward County Democratic Party has been arrested and charged with stealing from the party organization.

Percy Lee Johnson, 41, was arrested on Wednesday on a single count of Grand Theft, a third degree felony.

"Mr. Johnson surrendered at the Broward County Jail yesterday," explained Tim Donnelly, the head of the Broward State Attorney's Office Special Prosecutions Division.

Johnson was booked and has been released on bond.

Johnson is the former treasurer of the Broward County Democratic Party’s Council of Club Presidents and is accused of misusing the organization’s funds by writing at least $2,195 worth of unauthorized checks to himself and a relative.

Johnson was scheduled to surrender to authorities in June but prosecutors delayed the charges to continue their investigation.

Sources close to the investigation said the surrender was postponed while prosecutors determined if Johnson has any pending cases or prior arrests. They also sought to examine other bank records.

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.

Some of 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 the 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 case against Johnson is pending before Broward Circuit Court Judge David A. Haimes.


*Pictured above is Percy Johnson.