Editors Note: This letter was sent handwritten by Joe Johnson addressed to a Madison Press reporter Tuesday. It has been transcribed with minimal edits only for clarity. Text in brackets, [example], are additions from the editor while parentheses, (example) are from Johnson’s original letter.
As I’m sitting here in Madison County Corrections, reading The Madison Press about the Village of Mount Sterling, I’m very ashamed to have call some of those people running that town friends.
Even you Mr. Mayor.
You told me if you ever had another son you wish it would have been me. Well no thanks Mr. Anderson, I’ve read your letter in my discovery package, what lies you have written. You call yourself a Christian and my fellow Masonic Brother, well you told me in my office in April 2012, which [is] now your office, that this town needed to be cleaned up.
We had $278,000 in the bank. We had $57,000 in back water bills. We needed new streets and [the] water and sewer plant upgraded, water towers fixed, that with ever project you would give me a percentage of them. Well I done $24 million in projects, Mr. Mayor.
And you also told me that I could use the credit card for all my expenses that you APPROVE for with Lana and I keep all my receipts for and Vicky at the time done in and outs for. And I said “do council have to prove of this?” and you said “No. I’m your boss; I’m the president of finance” you said that way Facebook won’t blow it out of proportion. Let’s clean this town up.
And you sign a letter stating that. But guess what, it disappeared. Why would I take that Mr. Mayor (really)?
I’ve done my job. May not have been perfect but I got the job done. The town looked nice when I left.
But guess what, Mr. Anderson, you didn’t stand up for me you lied and if that’s a way a fellow Masonic Brother works well I don’t want to be a part of the Masons (sorry). You’re a liar, my opinion.
I’m doing 10 years for your lies and you don’t remember or want to remember any of this.
Now you want to run for mayor (really) and council members are up.
Mount Sterling, you have a lady on council that lives at the end of the town that does not have water and sewer but she votes.
And tell you what, you’re going to pay (not fair), my opinion.
And you have another lady on council that runs the business in town that, with her boyfriend they always get their water adjusted (really, ask for the records, public records, last eight years). She is also your local chamber and so is the mayor.
His building always gets ADJUSTED too. And the church he goes and also the clerk at same church was indicted on credit card fraud. Imagine that.
Mr. Mayor also owns the building for the local chamber, check those records too, and the Masonic Lodge. I had to do it when I was in office and the guy who wants to run the American Legion, in the whole, wants to be mayor (whoa). How many times has he tried?
I can go on in this little town, yes I know all of this and the corruption and I do know. But that’s another time. Maybe I’ll write a book about Madison County. I got time. Ten years, well you know that council members of Mount Sterling. You got me here. You may have taken all my property that I have work so hard for and all my real friends that know me knew that I love cars. That was my hobby, buying and selling. I had loans on most of those cars but I still have to pay back all of them.
The administrator Mr. Martin, How can you sale my property without bids or auction, anything over $999 has to be advertised and you called the car lot where I bought that 2008 Chrysler and ask him how much he pay for it.
Well, you should had check who he was. He is one of my best friends Mr. Martin.
How can I get a fair market price, if I’m not getting the best price for my property sounds to me you a [sic] idiot. My opinion.
I’m having my people look at this, maybe a lawsuit coming soon.
You should replace Mr. Martin. You’re the village administrator are you also work as a commission sheriff for Madison County that you also contract for the village for their police department (conflict.) The Sheriff knows that. Well maybe he is too busy looking at that reward plaque he got for the big bust for me. Good job Sheriff.
Mount Sterling council you have destroyed my life. You have taken everything from me, over lies that your mayor will not and did not stand up for me with a couple of council members.
And Mr. Sabin, if I was that big of a thief I wouldn’t work so hard to get the sheriff’s department in Mount Sterling. And what I liked about, you didn’t pick and choose, you done your job. That [sic] what I always like about you.
And if I thought I was doing wrong, I’ve would have moved them more than 89 miles away from the village.
But the one thing council, you didn’t take was my family. I may not have been a perfect husband, but that was between me and my wife.
And I was sure a good dad. My family has stayed beside me through all of this. Thank God.
I took the plea deal to protect my wife; the kids already lost their dad, they didn’t need to lose their mom too. What kind of a man would I be if I let that happen?
That was the hardest thing I had to do, is to plead guilty to something that I was told to do. Maybe when they came and asked me for a percentage of my projects a couple of council members I should have said yes instead of no. I wouldn’t be in this prison, away from my family.
People of Mount Sterling, don’t take anything for granted it can change in a blink of a eye. It did for me.
Well people of Mount Sterling and Madison County, when I left January 14, 2016, Mount Sterling had $1.9 million in the bank. I still have my bank statements from my package. The people on council said they didn’t know of this.
Well really, how could they not? That’s a lie.
Mount Sterling, clean house and mayor and administrator. That’s my opinion.
It’s been a long 14 months. Since this nightmare started my health is getting better. I lost 89 [pounds]. I’m still here.
I’d like to thank my beautiful wife Tara of 22 years and my two amazing kids for standing beside me and always loving me for who I am. My family, I’m one closer to being home with you. Thank God! Blood makes you related but loyalty makes you family.
And thank you my so called friends. When you needed me I would come a buddy but when I needed you the most you turn your back on me. Friends [are] overrated. You know who your friends are when the chips are down. Thanks for nothing.
Mount Sterling and Madison County, Sorry for all the negativity that this case has brought to you. If some people would have stood up and told the truth, well I would be home planning my daughter’s wedding.
Thank you for taking the time and reading this letter to the editor.
And hopefully, your town will get through this; it will make you stronger. Mount Sterling is a good town. It’s not your fault I’m here, it’s your council’s fault and mine for trusting people, my opinion.
People may say this is hearsay, but hearsay has took me away from my family. My first ever charge and never been in trouble. I’m in here for 10 years. Hopefully someone will look into this case and help me out so I can get home quicker.