Officer seizes inmate’s phone and sends himself money from the man’s CashApp, feds say

A Georgia correctional officer in charge of investigating inmate misconduct seized an inmate’s phone as contraband and stole money from his CashApp account, federal prosecutors said.

Andy Steven Johnson, 42, of Peachtree City, was supposed to process the inmate’s cellphone as part of prison policy but browsed through the device instead at the United States Penitentiary in Atlanta on Jan. 13, 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

After opening the inmate’s CashApp, Johnson sent $300 to his own CashApp account, then transferred the money into his checking account, prosecutors said.

Two months later, Johnson applied for a federal COVID-19 relief loan for a fake business, Performance Customs, on March 4, 2021, according to prosecutors.

In the application, Johnson lied and said Performance Customs had been in business since January 2020, produced a yearly revenue of $76,000 and paid its employees $6,333, prosecutors said.

As a result, he was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan of nearly $16,000 for the business that didn’t actually exist, according to prosecutors.

Now, Johnson has pleaded guilty to theft by an employee of the U.S. and wire fraud, the attorney’s office announced in a Nov. 3 news release.

McClatchy News contacted Johnson’s defense attorney for comment on Nov. 6 and didn’t receive an immediate response.

Johnson worked at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta since 2015 and joined the facility’s special investigative services team in 2018, the release said.

He was tasked with investigating inmates suspected of smuggling and possessing contraband, such as phones, drugs and tobacco, according to prosecutors, who said his duties included searching the inmates for these items.

Johnson no longer works for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a U.S. Penitentiary Atlanta spokesperson told McClatchy News in a statement on Nov. 7.

“While we decline to comment on the case specifically, we can share that the FBOP supports holding accountable those who violate public trust and engage in criminal activity,” the spokesperson said in an email. “As corrections professionals, we are trained and take an oath that requires us to act with integrity and safeguard those in our care and custody.”

“We are actively rooting out and addressing employee misconduct...The vast majority of our employees are hardworking, ethical, diligent corrections professionals, who act with integrity daily and want those engaging in misconduct to be held accountable,” the spokesperson added.

Johnson’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 7, prosecutors said.

Peachtree City is about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta.

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