Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges

UPDATE (May 26)

Johnson Utilities has posted a document it filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission on its website, stating that George H. Johnson has removed himself from all management of the utility company.

The decision, according to the document, is effective immediately, and it is done in order for Johnson to "devote his time to defending himself until he is cleared of the recent charges".

Original Story

A former Arizona Corporation Commissioner has been indicted on bribery, conspiracy and other charges.

According to court documents filed with the United States District Court for the DIstrict of Arizona, Gary Leonard Pierce, who served as a Corporation Commissioner from 2011 to 2012, was indicted with a count of conspiracy, a count of Federal Programs Bribery, a count of Honest Services Mail Fraud, and multiple counts of Honest Services Wire Fraud.

Also indicted on the same charges, according to court documents, are:

  • Sherry Ann Pierce, Gary Leonard Pierce's wife
  • George Harry Johnson, owner of Johnson Utilities, LLC
  • James Franklin Norton, who was a retained lobbyist for Johnson.

According to court documents, the four defendants allegedly conspired with each other to commit bribery, Honest Services Mail Fraud and Honest Services Wire Fraud from a time periods that began no later than August 2011, and allegedly continued until February 2013.

Johnson, according to the documents, allegedly gave money and property to Pierce and his wife, through Norton and an unindicted person who was not identified in the documents. in exchange for Pierce, in his role as a Corporation Commissioner, to execute official actions benefiting Johnson, as well as Johnson Utilities, LLC.

According to documents, Pierce and his wife allegedly received $31,000 from Johnson, via Norton, in exchange for favorable actions on matters before the Corporation Commission, one of which related to rates for utilities customers.

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