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Q & A Session With Judge Melvin Johnson

Anyone who has followed activities in Liberia either in the news or from the old fashion and cost saving EL-They-Say, might have heard the names Ellen Corkrum and Melvin Johnson. Like many persons, I have heard different versions of the story and so I decided to sit down with one of the accused Judge Melvin Johnson to get his side of the story. Since I am not a journalist, I requested that Judge Johnson write down his answers and he gladly did. Below is my short Q & A session with Judge Melvin Johnson. Because this issue has been extensively discussed in Liberia and the Diaspora, I will not be going into the background but urge those who are not already familiar with the story to do a simple search on the internet.

Dennis: How did Judge Johnson get hired at RIA and in what capacity?

Ms. Corkrum & Jude Johnson
Judge Johnson: Judge Johnson had been traveling to and fro Liberia for many years before the saga.  Judge Johnson had established a business through which he imported various pork and fish products to Liberia to provide food, assist his large family economically and promote the economy of LIB.  In October of 2012, Judge Johnson made one such trip and literally ran into Ellen Corkrum for the first time at the airport.  Long story short, Judge Johnson learned from Airport Board Chair Musa Bility and others that his services could be utilized to assist his country.  Specifically, the airport needed a jurist to assist with numerous legal issues some of which involved Delta Airlines (Liberia airport's largest customer).  Since Judge Johnson lives and runs a very successful law practice in Atlanta where Delta is headquartered and Judge Johnson traveled frequently to Liberia, the Board of Directors thought that the match was perfect.  Upon approval by the 7 members of the airport Board Of Directors, Judge Johnson was hired to work as its Legal Advisor.  That same month, October, 2012, the LAA Board of Directors recorded and signed minutes appointing Judge Johnson as Legal Advisor.

Dennis: How long did Judge Johnson know Ms. Ellen Corkrum prior to being hired and what role did she play in getting him the job?

Judge Johnson: Judge Johnson did not know Ellen Corkrum before meeting her at the airport in Liberia in October, 2012.  The idea to hire Judge Johnson was introduced and shared with the Board of Directors (comprising of seven (7) individuals) by then Board Chair Musa Bility.   Judge Johnson had assisted a half brother of Mr. Bility who lived in the Atlanta, Georgia in a series of legal matters, and Mr. Bility was familiar with Judge Johnson's work.  The seven (7) members of the Board approved the idea, recorded the corresponding minutes and passed the resolution.  

 Dennis: How long was Judge Johnson at RIA and why did he leave his post? (Timeline will also help)

Judge Johnson: Timeline:  
October 2012 - Judge Johnson arrived in Liberia
October 2012 - Judge Johnson gets hired by Airport Board of Directors
October - November 2012 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum discovered that government officials were stealing (Gas Station; Ghost Employee, VIP Lounge)
November - December 2012 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum changed numerous systems thereby blocking corrupt government officials, making recommendations for airport safety
November - December 2012 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum learned from many of the corrupt officials plans to plot, sign death warrant, eliminate, etc
November - December 2012 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum make difficult decision to be potential sacrificial lambs by recording the officials
November - January 2012 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum go under cover and record corrupt officials including President Johnson Sirleaf
Late January - Early February 2013 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum plays first of series of recordings in Liberia exposing corrupt officials
Late January - Early February 2013 - Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum's lives are threatened by President, Police Director and others assist them to escape with only the clothes on their backs.  
July 31, 2013 - Gov't of Liberia purportedly Indicts Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum and send extradition team. As of today, the pair has not received any indictment. They have only heard of indictment and extradition via media.
December 11, 2013 - Judge Blamo Dixon (the assigned Judge to the case) publicly announces that government had presented no evidence
May 2014 - Judge Johnson, Ellen Corkrum, Liberia, the World still looking for extradition team.  

Dennis: Did Melvin Johnson and Ellen Corkrum do anything to combat corruption or expose any wrong doing on the job in Liberia or prior to being indicted by the GOL?

Judge Johnson: While at RIA, Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum discovered various forms of corruption including:
     a. Ghost Employee Phenomenon  - Here corrupt officials would add Ghost employees to payroll and steal the excess and unclaimed payroll
     b. Gas Station - Here corrupt officials were using the airport's gas station to fuel their private gas stations and businesses
     c. VIP Lounge - Here corrupt officials were stealing by presenting fraudulent inventory vouchers and often colluding with Lebanese vendors
     d.  $54 a Month Salary - Here and despite the millions being earned by the airport and the fact that corrupt officials were earning $10,000 plus a month, the average employee was only making $54 a month.  Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum used the recouped funds from their anti-corruption stance and doubled said employees salaries and issued an unprecedented Christmas Bonus matching their salaries.  
     e. Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum - started a local airport community group (through the local intellectual forum) to raise funds to refurbish the local school, build a park/play ground

Dennis: What is Judge Johnson being indicted for by the Liberian Government and has he been officially informed?

Judge Johnson: Judge Johnson and Ms Ellen Corkrum have been purportedly indicted for creating a fake company called Diaspora Consulting.  GOL alleges that the company does not exist, had no employees, did nothing and Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum stole $259,000.00 under pretense while using the fictitious company.  However, Defense Minister Samukai talks about the company (so it existed) and explains that after his investigation, corrupt officials told him that they can put their heads on a chopping boards that the pair did not take a penny, but that corrupt officials were simply angered by the pair's "American way of scrutiny."  Further, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Edward McClain is heard on his recording authorizing/ordering the payment for work performed by the same company.  See attached:  (http://www.theindependentliberia.com/index.php/general-news/342-in-corkrumgate-3-how-dr-mcclain-betrayed-ellen).  Also, government officials, via emails, are seen chastising each other for being late with planned meetings at the airport with four (4) engineers from the same company.  So, if the company is fake and doesn't exist, the Defense Minister should not be aware of the engineers; the Minister of State should not be authorizing/ordering the payment to the company; there should not be emails of governmentt officials chastising each other for being late to meetings with the engineers.  Additionally, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself, is on voice recording referencing the compaction test and results needed from Diaspora Consulting to conduct the airport repair work. 

Dennis: How does indictment work and what will be the process to get Judge Johnson in Liberia to face the charges for which he was indicted?

Judge Johnson: These are the requisite steps from an alleged violation of law to final trial in Liberia.  Once the police suspects that a crime has been conducted.  They usually would arrest the suspects, conduct an investigation which includes talking to the suspects (if the suspects want to talk), and prepare a report.  The report would then be given to the Prosecutor (in this case the Ministry of Justice) for review and prosecution if the evidences are sufficient.  The Prosecutor would take all of the gathered evidences and witnesses to Court before a jury (called a grand jury) for a form of trial (called an indictment).  Note that the Defendants are neither present or even aware.  At Court, the Prosecutor would present the evidence and witnesses to the jury, and if convinced, the jury would find against Defendants and an indictment would result.  If the Defendants are in the U.S., the GOL would copy the same evidence as presented to the jury in Liberia and share the same with the U.S.  After a review, the U.S. would arrest the Defendants and have a fair and public trial in the U.S.   At this trial, the evidences and witnesses against the Defendants would be publicly and fairly presented to the U.S. Judge and the Defendants would have an opportunity to present their evidences and witnesses as well.  If the U.S. Judge finds against the Defendants, they would immediately be extradited (shipped back) to Liberia for a final trial.  Please note that the extradition process (where Liberia gives a copy of the presumably packaged and already tested evidence to the U.S. and the U.S. arrests the Defendants for trial) only takes 30 days, but Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum have been away from Liberia and very vocal publicly for about 460 days.  Also, please note that Liberia purportedly indicted Judge Johnson and Ellen Corkrum 6 months after they escaped with the clothes on their backs from Liberia.  

Dennis: What does Judge Melvin Johnson or Ellen Corkrum know about Diaspora Consulting?

Judge Johnson: The CEO of Diaspora Consulting was a school mate of Finance Minister, Amara Konneh.  Amara Konneh also brought the same CEO to Liberia to work for Liberia when Amara Konneh was the Minister of Planning.  When Liberia's airport experienced an emergency (while trying to land, Air France landing gear broke off in one of the pot-holes on the airport's runway).  Please see attached email called:  Air France Accident At Airport.pdf.  Amara Konneh recommended Diaspora Consulting because of the CEO's expertise and Senegal's aviation experience.  It’s amazing how the GOL tried to turn it all around falsely.  Please read the attached email. 

Dennis: If all that the government is saying about Johnson and Corkrum is false, can they sue the GOL for libel or what can they do to exonerate themselves/clear their names?

Judge Johnson: Yes, the law does allow Judge Johnson and  Ellen Corkrum the right to sue the GOL for libel, and the pair likely will
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It must me noted that Judge Johnson also sent me an email attachment of an email chain (gmail) talking about the Diaspora Consulting Company as proof that the firm was indeed legitimate and not fake as the GOL is alleging evidenced by the government officials' discussion in the email chain and that he and Ms. Corkrum had nothing to do with the company. Additionally, a playlist of secret youtube recordings by judge Johnson and Ms Corkrum can be found here.

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