Man pleading guilty to bribery says Hammond councilman pressured him
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org October 25, 2012 4:20PM
Hammond Councilman Alfonso Salinas Jr., D-2nd.
Updated: November 27, 2012 10:57AM
A Munster man admitted Thursday afternoon he paid $10,500 in bribes to Hammond City Councilman Alfonso Salinas but said Salinas pressured him to do so.
David Johnson, 56, pleaded guilty during his change-of-plea hearing at U.S. District Court in Hammond to one count of bribery.
Johnson, who owns Dave’s Tree Service, was charged earlier this month with bribing Salinas from 2009 to 2011 in exchange for getting $310,000 worth of tree-trimming work for Salinas’ 2nd District.
Johnson said during his hearing Thursday that Salinas approached him about the work. It wasn’t until after Johnson performed the first job, he said, that Salinas told him he wanted part of the money.
“He would then put the arm on you?” U.S. District Judge Philip Simon asked.
“Roughly, yes,” Johnson said, adding that he felt he had to keep giving Salinas bribes in order to get more work.
Johnson said he made 11 payments total to Salinas, with the smallest being $500 and the largest $1,500.
Federal attorneys claim that the money used to pay for the work came from casino revenue funds that each council member can use for his or her district.
Salinas has been charged with one count of bribery and four counts of filing a false tax return. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Simon set Johnson’s sentencing for Feb. 20.