Ex-official in Arundel avoids jail time, is ordered to repay $92,000 in theft case


January 23, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former state Cabinet official was sentenced yesterday to six months of house arrest and ordered to repay the $92,000 that he admitted stealing from the Anne Arundel County social services program he ran for about seven years.

An attorney for Brent Millard Johnson, 62, blamed a gambling addiction for leading the once-rising political star to steal from the Child Support Initiative Program, which has since been eliminated.

Johnson, who holds a doctorate in higher education from Catholic University, had served as secretary of the newly created state Department of Employment and Training from 1983 to 1986 under then-Gov. Harry R. Hughes, and before that ran the state board of community colleges.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck said he would have ordered psychological treatment, but Johnson is already receiving counseling. Manck said the case shows that addiction affects people at all economic levels.

He sentenced the Annapolis resident to three years in prison, with all of it suspended except for six months of house arrest. While serving five years of probation, Johnson is to repay the money to the Department of Social Services and complete 250 hours of community service.

"What the judge did was consistent with what the judges of our county and the other counties do," said Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III.

Davis had asked for "significant incarceration" on the two of 900 charges that Johnson pleaded guilty to last month. State guidelines call for up to six months in jail.

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