Ralph Johnson, the ABC board member accused last week of bribery and extortion, resigned from his position on the board Wednesday to put an end the “distraction” caused by his arrest.
His resignation came hours before the Metro Council was expected to consider an item at its meeting to remove Johnson from the board for “misconduct in office.”
Johnson submitted his resignation through his attorney on Wednesday in an email to council administrator Brian Mayers.
“Mr. Johnson takes this action not because he believes he has done anything wrong, but because as a public servant he feels that this case has become a distraction from the people’s business and that both the ABC Board and the Metro Council will be better served focusing on their primary duties to the public rather than on this matter,” Johnson’s attorney Chris Alexander said.
“Again, Ralph concedes no wrongdoing and looks forward to continuing to serve his community with enthusiasm and dedication in whatever capacity he is able to,” he said.
Mayers said Johnson’s vacancy will be advertised for 60 days and the council will likely consider appointing a new member in mid-January.
Johnson was arrested Oct. 17 on counts of bribery and extortion by the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Johnson was appointed more than a year ago by the Metro Council to the city-parish’s Alcoholic Beverage Control office which, among other things, issues liquor permits to local businesses.
Johnson allegedly accepted a $1,500 check and the promise of additional monthly fees from a business applying for a liquor permit.
However, Johnson maintains he had recused himself from the ABC board at the time and the funds were membership fees to a local neighborhood association.