Charles E. “Junior” Johnson, founder and CEO of now-defunct PurchasePro Inc., was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison for securities fraud. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of between 16 and 17 1/2 years, the AP reports, but the court applied older federal sentencing guidelines to the crimes that occurred more than seven years ago.
The AP reports that prosecutors said Johnson “was the ringleader of a scheme to falsely inflate PurchasePro’s revenue in the first three months of 2001, as the high-tech economy was in freefall. Seven people were convicted in a long-running investigation, which also exposed improper accounting practices at America Online, which had been PurchasePro’s business partner.”
AOL paid a $210 million fine in 2004 to settle criminal charges that it had aided and abetted stock fraud at PurchasePro.
Defense attorney John Steer said that Johnson was now “essentially broke” and asked for leniency from the court. U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady, however, said Johnson showed “astounding contempt for our rule of law” and told him, “You obstructed justice at every turn.”