- Associated Press - Monday, July 18, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A former Hinds County prosecutor has been charged in federal court with conspiracy for allegedly accepting money to provide favorable treatment for defendants in criminal cases.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (https://on.thec-l.com/29PT3dX ) the one-count bill of information against former Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson was filed in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Shreveport, Louisiana.

U.S. Attorney Greg Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi recused his office from handling the case, but spokeswoman Sheila Wilbanks would not provide details Monday for the decision.

The charge against Johnson comes about a month after Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith was charged in a six-count affidavit of providing information to assist criminal defendants. The charges against Smith are misdemeanors, but they could lead to his removal from office if convicted.

Smith, who is serving his third term as district attorney, hasn’t spoken publicly about the charges, but his attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, is seeking to have the charges dismissed.

Smith was arrested after a joint investigation by the attorney general’s office and the FBI into allegations that he had illegally advised or defended individuals charged with crimes, Attorney General Jim Hood said.

The affidavit filed against Johnson said he accepted money from a co-conspirator, totaling at least $15,000 throughout the conspiracy, which occurred from June 2013 to February of this year, on behalf of criminal defendants, including a person identified by the initials S.B., an official charged with a felony offense in Hinds County.

The affidavit also says on or about Oct. 20, 2014, Johnson, as agent for the Hinds County District Attorney’s office, moved to reduce the bond amount of S.B. from approximately $15,000 down to $3,500 in exchange for approximately $300.

Johnson couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. Lou Anne Jackson, executive legal assistant to Smith, said Johnson is no longer with the district attorney’s office, but wouldn’t provide any other details.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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