Former PC employee Michael Johnson sentenced to 8 years, makes full restitution

Panama City’s former community development director pled no contest to Grand Theft, Money Laundering and 19 counts of Official Misconduct Thursday and was sentenced to 8 years in prison, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register accepted the plea and handed down the sentence in the case prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Peter Overstreet.

Above: Prosecutor Peter Overstreet, right, addresses Circuit Court Judge Timothy Register during Michael Johnson’s sentencing Thursday. Below: The defendant signed paperwork returning property to the city Thursday during sentencing before being fingerprinted.

“Actions like these where the public trust is violated simply will not be tolerated,” Basford said. “The defendant was a government employee who used his position to enrich himself. Working with the Panama City Police Department throughout the investigation we were able to prepare a case that was strong enough that the defendant is not only being punished, but the stolen funds are being recovered.”

The plea was predicated upon the defendant surrendering $113,000 found on his property by the FBI, surrendering money he funneled into his personal bank account, and returning properties and vehicles he bought with stolen funds. He also must forfeit his City retirement plans.


Overstreet said the evidence showed the defendant had control of an account at Hancock Bank for the Friends of After School Assistance Program, Inc., since 2012.  The defendant diverted approximately $470,000 intended to be used for the City’s After School Assistance Program (ASAP) to his personal account for his own use. ASAP offers learning opportunities to low-income youths and their families who are at-risk of educational failure and who need a safe haven after-school program.

“Panama City investigators contacted us early on and what we found is that the defendant used the money to purchase a number of vehicles and properties within the city,” Overstreet said.  “It was egregious. He clearly redirected public funds to himself over a number of years, tried to hide it, and for justice to be served he now has to pay a price.”

Basford credited the Panama City Police Department and city officials for their investigation when the fraud was brought to their attention, as well as involving the SAO early on so the agencies and the FBI could work in concert on a complicated financial case and ultimately recover the stolen funds.

For additional information contact Mike Cazalas at