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Business owner says ABC board member deserves arrest

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Posted: Oct 17, 2011 10:27 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Oct 17, 2011 10:27 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: business, ABC, board member, Ralph Johnson, arrest, extortion, bribery, liquor

BATON ROUGE- A business owner, authorities say was caught up in an extortion and bribery scheme, says the appointed official accused of the crimes, deserved to get caught.

Ralph Johnson, an almost-two year member of the ABC Board in Baton Rouge was arrested on one count of each charge Monday.

Authorities say he abused his power on that board by telling the business owner he would get a liquor license in exchange for $1,500 up-front to Johnson's non-profit organization, MECA, Inc., which aims to revitalize the Melrose East area. The deal also called for monthly $150 payments to the organization, as well a limit on liquor sale amounts and times.

The business owner reported the deal to the ABC Office, which turned to the state ATC Commissioner for an investigation. Commissioner Troy Hebert said an undercover operation found a contract stating all of the stipulations, and caught Johnson accepting a check for $1,500 from the business owner on camera.

Johnson was then arrested at the organization office Monday morning.

Johnson told News 2 during that arrest, he did not commit the crimes he's accused of and has done nothing but good for both the board and the community.

The ABC Office says it's up to Metro Council as to what happens to Johnson's position on the board.

As of news time Monday night, Johnson was still in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison with a $20,000 bond on the extortion charge.

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