‘Shock’ probation denied in case of NKY visitors bureau official convicted of theft

‘Shock’ probation denied in case of NKY visitors bureau official convicted of theft
Bridget Johnson was the finance director at the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau for 20 years until she was terminated Oct. 3. (Source: WXIX)

COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - A Kenton County court has denied a motion requesting ‘shock’ probation for the former finance director for the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Bridget Johnson pleaded guilty in November to theft of more than $1 million, unlawful access to a computer and abuse of public trust of more than $100,000.

She was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison in January.

Shock probation is a legal policy by which a judge orders a convicted offender to prison for a short time, then suspends the remainder of their sentence in favor of probation, hoping the brief experience of prison provides enough of a deterrent.

Kenton County Judge Patricia Summer denied Johnson’s motion for shock probation on Tuesday:

“Having reviewed the pleadings in this action, Defendant’s criminal history, the pre-sentence investigation prepared by the Division of Probation and Parole, the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history, character and conditions of Defendant, this court concludes that shock probation would unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense.”

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Prosecutors say Johnson sent dozens of vendor checks totaling $4 million to unauthorized individuals who claimed to be vendors between May 2017 and September 2018.

She was also accused of using a bureau computer to make and delete those transactions.

Prosecutors say Johnson told a detective she met a man on Match.com and believed they were romantically involved despite never meeting the man.

The man, who claimed to live in Ft. Thomas, began asking her to wire money so he could return home to see her.

In July, a man was arrested in the Bahamas in connection with receiving funds from Johnson. According to his arrest warrant, he deposited the checks in his account, kept about $400,000 and used wire transfers to send the rest to accounts in China.

Johnson was terminated from her position in Oct. 2018 and arrested the next month.

She had worked at the NKCVB for 20 years.

The chair of the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau Board, Tim Bray, released the following statement after Johnson’s sentencing:

“The entire board and staff of meetNKY would first like to thank and recognize the job done by the Covington Police Department and Commonwealth’s Attorney office in prosecuting this crime. The past year for meetNKY has been very tumultuous and challenging dealing with the betrayal and crime of a long time employee. The organization has continued to enhance its internal controls to further the mission of meetNKY.While dealing with the sad outcomes of this crime, the bureau has also stayed laser focused on our mission of providing a measurable economic impact on the Northern Kentucky economy, providing best of class services for visitors to our region and celebrating another record breaking year of results in our three counties.”

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