PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The saga of disgraced Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency Director Michael Johnson’s embezzlement is nearing its end.
Panama City commissioners voted Tuesday morning to receive the money seized by authorities as part of the more than $1,000,000 dollars he stole from the city.
“Everyone involved is going to be made whole and I mean there’s really not much more that you can ask than that,” Panama City City Commissioner Jenna Haligas said.
Most of the money embezzled came from the Friends of ASAP, a nonprofit organization committed to financially assisting Panama City’s After School Assistance Program (ASAP).
Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen requested commissioners approve a resolution to accept the properties Johnson bought, seized cash, vehicles, and funds from bank accounts.
The resolution also has the city putting the properties and vehicles up for auction and returning the money the city put into Johnson’s retirement account.
The city will then implement a plan to use the money to benefit the at-risk youth in ASAP.
“Ensuring that these funds get to the appropriate intended source, which was the kids involved in the after-school assistance program,” Panama City City Commissioner Josh Street said. “As this restitution comes, as the homes are sold, that money will be designated to help ensure that those kids are the proper beneficiaries.”
“It’s going to be a great way of doing it for ASAP and I think they’re going to be bigger and stronger than they were before and it also gives a great opportunity to put, that’s a nice chunk of change to put towards what they’ve been working at for like ten years to open another facility in a different part of town,” Haligas said.
Between Johnson’s assets and a $333,000 city pension forfeiture, the city will be recouping about $1.6 million.
This surplus will help cover the cost of the forensic audit, which officials said is running the city around $100,000.
The Friends of ASAP is also in the middle of a forensic audit.
The non-profit will dissolve after the audit and the remaining funds will go to the city.