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Michigan Sen. Bert Johnson's request to delay trial partially granted by court

Court adjourned for 60 days

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DETROIT – Michigan State Sen. Bert Johnson's request to delay his trial in an alleged conspiracy case was partially granted by the court.

Johnson is accused of hiring a "ghost employee" with whom he allegedly conspired to pay off his personal loan debt. He pleaded not guilty last month to conspiracy and theft charges after being indicted by a grand jury.

Johnson's defense team requested the court to push back its pretrial deadlines and trial by 90 days.

"The defendant's stated need to retain an accounting expert and an investigator and the need for those individuals to complete their work on this matter, the failure to grant a continuance of 60 days would deny defense counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence," a court document said.

Court officials announced they would adjourn the trial for 60 days, rather than the 90 days requested by Johnson.

Here are the new dates:

  • Motion cut-off: July 7
  • Plea cut-off: Aug. 8
  • Final pretrial conference: Aug. 8
  • Jury trial: Aug. 22

Federal investigators believe Johnson borrowed $10,000 from a woman caught up in the Detroit Public Schools kickback scandal. Johnson didn't have the money to repay her, so he turned her into a "ghost employee." He added her to his state Senate office payroll. She earned $20 an hour without doing any work.

Johnson's Highland Park home and Lansing office were raided by FBI agents and Michigan State Police troopers in March. In an interview with Local 4 after the raid, he was adamant that he had done nothing wrong.

"(I was) very surprised and even disappointed," Johnson said. "Had they called, we would have been willing to meet with them and turn over any documents they may have been looking for."

Johnson is a two-term Second District senator. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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