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Sycamore attorney now faces more serious theft charge

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 11:36 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 10:50 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – A 47-year-old Sycamore attorney will appear in court next week for the first time on a felony theft charge after prosecutors filed a more serious charge against him.

K.O. Johnson, of the 1600 block of Maness Court, was first charged in July 2013 and accused of withholding money from a former employee’s paycheck but failing to invest it in her retirement fund in and around April 2012, court records show.

The amount of money involved – between $500 and $1,000, according to DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack – hasn’t changed, but prosecutors initially charged him with a misdemeanor punishable by probation or up to a year in jail.

On Feb. 14, he was instead charged with a felony, typically punishable with probation or up to five years in prison.

Schmack declined to say why his office is pursuing a more serious charge, but denied Johnson’s assertion it was because Johnson supported Schmack’s political opponent, Clay Campbell, in the last election.

“It’s political retribution,” Johnson said. “I supported the wrong guy in the last election.”

Schmack, who said he filed the ethics complaint that resulted in Johnson’s law license being suspended, called the allegation ludicrous. Schmack said Johnson’s case is no different than others the State Attorney’s Office regularly handles.

“The indictment speaks for itself,” Schmack said. “The facts supported a felony charge from the very beginning based on the dollar amount at issue.”

Johnson also said prosecutors told him they would upgrade the case to a felony if he did not make a deal with them at his Jan. 31 status hearing.

“If Johnson wants to talk about this case outside of court, he’s welcome to do that,” Schmack said, “but we’re not going to discuss the pre-negotiations that took place.”

Johnson is next due in court Friday.

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